Today, Greg Postel, along with David Grissom, helped make the most pivotal decision in the history of Louisville Athletics. Neither felt the need to answer any questions after the decision was made.
When the University of Louisville fanbase needed answers the most, they weren’t offered up.
Tom Jurich has been the Louisville Athletic Director for over 20 years. In that time, he’s taken the school’s athletic footprint to a different planet. The Board of Trustees voted to remove him with cause. They didn’t feel the need to explain why.
If it was up to me, Tom Jurich would have been removed (I detailed that here). Many disagreed, and you can find their complaints in my email inbox or my Twitter mentions (seriously, it’s been ugly). Yet still, not a single member of the Board of Trustees felt the need to answer questions about making such a controversial decision.
How do you fire Tom Jurich and not think that the donors, the fans, the students or anyone else deserve an explanation? How does David Grissom – the head of decision-making for the Board of Trustees – walk out a back door and not say a single thing after the vote?
You haven’t provided many answers today, would you like to give this one a shot Mr. Postel?
“Since this matter is subject to legal constraints, I will not be taking any questions about Athletics,” Postel explained to an assembled array of media before reading his prepared statement.
That’s a logical explanation. I mean, after all, more lawyers have been on the Louisville Campus lately than in a Gambino Family meeting. Postel wouldn’t want to misspeak with his answers. That makes sense. However, there is one problem.
“I’d be happy to take any questions,” Postel noted after the firing of Rick Pitino.
Wait a second? Maybe I didn’t hear things correctly. What’s that? You’d be happy to take questions on Rick Pitino? The guy that could force you to lose more than 40 million dollars because of a buyout clause and mishandling of his termination?
You answered questions about getting involved in a lawsuit with Rick Pitino. You answered questions about why you decided to fire Rick Pitino. You even answered a pointed question about if you would “pay off” Rick Pitino. You couldn’t answer anything – and I mean anything – about why you removed a guy with a list of athletic accomplishments longer than the United States tax code?
Was Tom Jurich fired for cause on Wednesday afternoon due to insubordination?
There had been millings in University circles that this could be the case. Many said he refused to fire Louisville Basketball Coach Rick Pitino when he was asked. It would make sense if he did this. After all, and above anything, he was loyal to Pitino. From the University standpoint, firing Jurich for insubordination had its merit.
Was he terminated because of the optics of the situation?
This writer tends to fall in this category more than any other. Recently, the national perception of the University of Louisville has been pretty ugly. Frankly, they have been the laughing stock of the nation, and with good reason. Cleaning house would make sense.
Was the loss of his position due to something entirely different?
We don’t know. We don’t have the answers that could have been provided.
Postel has handled this entire situation fairly well. I don’t know the guy, but he seems relatively likeable. He’s represented the University in some capacity since 1994. His loyalty or love for the school should be unquestioned. Yet, when his leadership qualities were needed most today, he failed.
There was an opportunity today for Greg Postel, and the others entrenched in the University, yet only one person seized it. That one person would be Acting Athletic Director Charlie Tyra. He took question after question and laughed in face of accusations that athletics would be de-emphasized without Jurich. He was ready for the moment. He made the strongest bullet point to-date that he was the guy to lead the athletic department out of this crisis.
The rest of them? They failed to seize the moment.
With a few questions and answers, things could have been easier. Transparency could have been exhibited. After all, transparency is the thing this group preached so loudly about.
With a few questions and answers, it could have been the moment that the healing of a fractured fanbase began to occur. There are many raw emotions that need to be soothed.
That’s all it would have taken. Yet, the only sound we got Wednesday evening at Grawemeyer Hall was that of leadership failure, and that reverberates louder than anything.