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Fan Base on the Brink?

Going full PTI on you, let’s play, “What’s the Word?”

The first category from our producer?

“Fans of University of Louisville Men’s Athletics are _______?”

OK, then let’s not beat around the bush, and get immediately to the toughie.




“Gnarly?” (OK, that was just one surfer wannabe I saw wandering through the park with a U of L shirt on.)


Let’s just settle on this. Anecdotally from conversations with many longtime faithful I’ve chatted up in the last little while, the word that comes to mind, in addition to all the above, is “Unhappy!”

* * * * *

I’ve had a couple of very recent conversations in which I’ve heard not very flattering reflections about U of L’s sports administration.

One charter member of the Cardinal Club opined that “the AD could care less about the members.” He mentioned no specifics.

An attorney who represents a coach now gone advised how difficult it was to negotiate with the current folks in charge, how many onerous and inexplicable restrictions were placed in his client’s last contract. Which soured the relationship.

Then there’s this lingering query: Why on earth would U of L go to the Feds about Dino Gaudio?

So, there’s all that.

* * * * *

As has been a recurring theme in recent years, with enthusiasm waning, basketball ticket holders are being given the opportunity to upgrade their seats.

But . . . without any financial incentive whatsoever.

As best I can tell, contribution levels haven’t been adjusted a bit, despite the significant number of fans giving up their seats (anecdotal surmise) in view of all the stuff going down.

One alum with tickets forever chose to move his seats. But, during the process was unable to get anybody in the ticket office or administration to answer the phone. Not even Heather in India.

He had to text his questions to the ticket office. A call to his “representative” took him to an anonymous voice mail box. From which he never heard a thing. Not even Chaz in the Phillipines.

Bottom line: Customer Service seems to be about on its game as last year’s teams.

For those willing to even consider it.

Then there’s the quandary of elderly fans who want to keep or move tickets, but don’t have smart phones with data plans to download the necessary app for digital ducats only.

* * * * *

My contemporaries who are fans are admittedly an aging demographic.

I asked one who gave up seats, whether it was the turmoil hovering over hoops, or just that he’d rather stay home and watch on TV from his recliner?

60% the former, he said.

* * * * *

Which brings me to a quick — very quick, not to dwell, it’s been talked to death already — rehash of how we got to this summer of our concern.

Cardinal football. 4-7. Coach’s dalliance with South Carolina. Significant coaching changes. New heralded recruiting savant jumps ship. The Luke McCaffery thing, whatever that really was.

Cardinal basketball. 13-7. No NCAA invite. No victories in the Dance since March ‘17. Two coaches canned. The Gaudio embarrassment.

Cardinal baseball. Once Top 5, U of L finished 28-22 (16-16) with no invite to the NCAA. Dan McDonnell advising he’ll listen to LSU if the school calls.

As I’ve written before, 2013 ain’t walkin’ in that door no more.

* * * * *

Upon reflection, I now realize I’ve touched on this subject before.

Probably too many times. No, surely too many times.

But, as a lifelong fan, the state of U of L men’s sports is always on my mind. The current situation(s) gnaw at me.

When I think of football, I look at the schedule and see rising Ole Miss and Gus Malzahn-coached UCF early on.

As for hoops, Card fans hopes depend on a new look coach from the South Pacific, and the health of an oft-injured big.

And a Cardinal nine in flux.

Then there are the fans, already on tenterhooks, looking for some love, accommodation and convenience, and seeming to get none from those in charge.

Where’s Betty Jackson when we really need her?

I won’t talk about it again.

At least, I’ll try not to.

It’s time to look ahead. To try to muster some hope.

Beat Ole Miss.

— c d kaplan