SPORTS: In UofL Board of Trustees “giving” narrative, scale matters

A battle continues to wage on amongst the Louisville athletic fan base and University representatives. Two clear sides have been established. On one side is the push to retain Athletic Director Tom Jurich, who was placed on paid administrative leave on September 27th. The other hopes to move forward in a new, different direction without Tom Jurich.

A popular point of contention among the Pro-Jurich clan has been the new University of Louisville Board of Trustees. The group has been placed under intense public scrutiny since being implemented. That scrutiny has only increased since Tom Jurich was suspended from his role.

Amongst many other questions, a recent focus has been to question the very allegiance of the Board members to the University. Charlie Springer, a Louisville blogger, cited this in a recent article by challenging a consultant to school who stated that the board members could be measured by “visible and meaningful gifts”.

He denoted that 8 of the 13 Louisville board members had given no money to athletics in their combined lifetime donations. The donations made to athletics appeared as such:

    • John Schnatter $19,176,859 ($19.1 of which comes in the form of Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium)
    • Sandra Frazier $10,350
    • David Grissom $20,000
    • James Rogers $50,350
    • Ronald Wright $1,500

Cumulative Total: $19,259,059

Springer denoted the contributions as “weak”. He also explained how two members have neither given to athletics or academics. On its surface, that may seem fair. When you eliminate the Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium donation from John Schnatter, $179,059 for a lifetime of giving doesn’t equate to much. With this revelation, a narrative has continued to be established that the Board of Trustees allegiance should be questioned. They are members simply for political gain. Some would even tell you they are Kentucky fans trying to sabotage the University of Louisville. Seriously.

However, when a clearer picture is painted, that narrative gains a little less traction. In public records request obtained by Never Nervous, it was found that this type of giving may be status quo around the State of Kentucky.

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In a release that detailed the lifetime giving for the Board of Trustees from the University of Kentucky, we found some interesting notes:

12 members of Kentucky’s 19 member board haven’t given to athletics.

Like Louisville, 2 members – James H. Booth and Sandra Shuffett – have given nothing to athletics or academics. That doesn’t include Dr. Lee X. Blonder who has only given a total of $55.

Once you eliminate the Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium donation of 19.1 million dollars. Kentucky’s board with six more members has given only $202,005 more than Louisville’s ($381,064 vs $179,059).

If you put this to scale, things get even closer. $20,056 is the average donation of Kentucky Board Members to athletics, conversely $13,773 is the average donation of Louisville Board Members. That’s a less than $7,000 disparity. If we’re asking questions of the University of Louisville Board members, the narrative seems to be missed for the University of Kentucky Members.

It’s important to get a clear picture of things. Just like with any Board of Trustees, there are plenty things to be questioned. However, questioning their allegiance seems like a particularly serious accusation. When you look at the money (and what else would be better to look at), the facts just don’t show that.