Vince Tyra’s first summer as Louisville’s athletic director is off to a pretty stellar start.
Any lingering concerns that there would be a mass exodus (or even small exodus) of coaches following the dismissal of Tom Jurich were put to bed for good on Tuesday when the U of L Athletics Association personnel committee approved contract revisions for both Jeff Walz and Dan McDonnell.
Details of the revisions have not been released and are still technically pending full approval from the U of L board. Still, I think we can all agree that this is cause for celebration.
Walz figured to be a prime target for some of the best programs in the country (*cough cough* Tennessee *cough* maybe someone else I don’t know *cough cough*) in the coming season, and McDonnell had already been openly targeted and contacted by Mississippi State. Walz’s contract negotiations appearing to stall and McDonnell having enough interest in a potential suitor to at least have a conversation were both enough to get a portion of the U of L fan base riled up in recent weeks. Calming all those people down before we plunge head first into the deadest of the dead period is a major win for Tyra.
The biggest reason this is major news is obvious: Both coaches are near the top of the game in their respective sports, and their presence at Louisville gives two Cardinal programs a realistic shot at winning national championships for the foreseeable future. Nearly as important, however, is Tyra sending the message to the U of L fan base that while he’s bringing significant changes behind the curtain, he’s also maintaining stability in the program’s most visible areas.
McDonnell and Walz are two of the most successful and popular coaches on Floyd Street. Getting them both fully invested in the future of Cardinal athletics is equal parts exciting and comforting.
Here’s a portion of the U of L release on McDonnell:
“Dan’s been happy at the University of Louisville for a long time and we’re making sure he’s happy into the future. When you have quality coaches, we know they’re going to be approached with other opportunities, but I’m confident we have everything here Dan wants and needs in order to continue in our pursuit of winning a national championship,” said UofL Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Vince Tyra.
”The existing contract for Dan had eight years remaining on it, so that part of the deal will stay intact. There will be incremental bumps in his base salary and incentives to make sure the agreement is in line with how we like to see coaches’ contracts structured. With that said, this wasn’t focused only on the compensation for Dan but was instead more of a program discussion. Dan knows the upside of what we have at the University of Louisville and he understands our commitment to investing in all phases of the baseball program.”
And on Walz:
It was announced today that University of Louisville women’s basketball head coach Jeff Walz and Director of Athletics Vince Tyra have agreed to a revised contract. Details of the contract have not been released, but it will include an extension through 2024-25.
”I’m really excited to extend my contract,” said Walz. “It’s not just important to me, it’s important to our entire staff. It’s nice to know where you are going to be for an extended period of time and I’m excited about the future.”
”Coach Walz has been happy here and we’re trying to keep him happy here,” said Tyra. “We’re excited that he will be here through 2025, and I think that’s important to him.”