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On U of L, the new KFC Yum Center deal, and the future of Tom Jurich

These are troubling times. Louisville needs its most proven commodity to navigate them.

Louisville Announce Move To ACC Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The University of Louisville has reached a new deal in its ongoing negotiations with the KFC Yum Center, this according to a report from WAVE-3 Sports Wednesday afternoon.

UofL Interim President Dr. Greg Postel will present the deal to the school's Athletic Association at a meeting Thursday morning. Then, the matter will go to the UofL Board of Trustees for full approval.

Thursday afternoon, the KFC Yum! Center will announce what it called Wednesday an approval of "the First Amendment to the University of Louisville Lease Agreement."


A source close to the university told WAVE 3 News the new deal that will be voted on Thursday includes more than $2.5 million "in cash and other givebacks" from UofL to the arena each year. That source also said the new deal represents a shift in power from the athletics department to the president's office, and that Jurich may not even learn the details of the proposed arrangement until later Wednesday night.

“Shifting power” from the athletics side to the president’s office is a fairly massive move that would have large ramifications for Cardinal sports. Not just financially. If athletics does lose complete negotiating power when it comes to the arena, then it could result in odd dates for men’s basketball games, and the potential booting of women’s games to another venue.

Since the opening of the KFC Yum Center, the women’s basketball team has played all of its home games inside the arena solely because Tom Jurich demanded it — against some massive pushback -- during the original negotiation. Now, Jeff Walz’s team perennially ranks in the top five nationally in attendance, and has set itself up to become one of the sport’s consistent powers moving forward. Not all of that is a credit to their home arena, but a considerable amount is due to the overwhelming support the program has received from its athletic directory. You’d hate to see that progress take an unnecessary hit.

Also, let’s talk about the fact that Jurich reportedly was not consulted in all of this and is apparently finding out about it at the same time the rest of us are. Of course this wouldn’t be the first time that the AD has recently been blindsided by something and forced to react quickly and effectively.

—He was blindsided with just about the worst news possible in 2015 when the basketball scandal stuff first landed on his plate. He immediately informed the NCAA and went to work on the best way to uncover the truth and accept the punishment if there was a punishment to accept.

—In April he was blindsided by John Schnatter when the Papa publicly criticized him for, among other things, not attending meetings that he had previously never been invited to attend. He was subsequently invited to start attending, and he has been attending ever since.

—Last month he was blindsided with the NCAA’s punishment of his basketball program. He said all the right things in response and immediately went to work on what he believed was the best remedy to the situation. We’ll see how that plays out in the coming months (or years).

In spite of all this, there has been (INTERNET REPORT COMING...) significant buzz that multiple higher-ups on the still-bizarrely appointed new U of L Board of Trustees want Jurich to give up (or be stripped) of his vice president title and have his power walked back significantly.

If those rumors turn into something more in the coming weeks, it’s hard for me to see that as anything other than a potentially lethal misstep.

I said this a few months ago and I’ll say it again: It is perfectly ok to not be 100 percent satisfied with the state of things at the moment. That’s everyone’s right. I’ll follow that statement up with this one: If you think the solution to your issues with the current state of things is to diminish the role of Tom Jurich or see him removed from the situation entirely, I think you’re looking at things through the wrong end of the telescope.

The fact that the actions of one director of basketball operations could suddenly call into question two decades of work that has completely reshaped both the University of Louisville and Cardinal athletics for the better is absurd to me. And make no mistake, if Andre McGee is never introduced to Katina Powell then we’re not here having this (one-sided) conversation.

U of L’s campus looks like a legitimate college campus because of Tom Jurich. So many coaches who have made U of L so successful across the board have turned down “greener pasture” jobs because of Tom Jurich. Hell, Louisville is a member of the ACC because of Tom Jurich.

All these things taken into consideration, it’s hard for me to fathom how some could view Jurich as a liability and not their chief commodity during a time of turmoil.