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Louisville’s season ends as Dan McDonnell comments on future

The Cards will not participate in their conference tournament for the first time since 1970.

Photo by Annie Moore

In order for Louisville (31-24, 10-20 ACC) to advance to the ACC Tournament, the Cards needed one of two things to happen this weekend; sweep Florida State, or win the series 2-1 AND a sweep in the Pittsburgh/NC State series. With the loss to the Seminoles on Friday and NC State up 2-0 in the series over the Panthers, the Cards still had a path on Saturday afternoon.

The Wolfpack held up their end of the deal, completing the sweep, but Florida State managed to win just their second ACC series of the year to end the season for Dan McDonnell and Co., 6-2, in front of 3,070 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.

It wasn’t the game that is getting the majority of the publicity upon the completion of the season, yet it is the comments made by the Cardinals skipper, voicing his frustrations that appeared to be aimed at the administration for lack of commitment to his program.

D1 Baseball and Baseball America have both mentioned McDonnell as a possible candidate at Alabama, which he was asked about, and was very vocal in his response.

Here is the entire video that I encourage everyone to watch. There is a lot to unpack here but let me attempt to paint the picture for both sides.

From an administration standpoint, baseball is a non-revenue generating sport. We all understand that, but when the department promises upgrades and they do not deliver, that presents many challenges for the coaching staff. Coach McDonnell discussed this in the video, mentioning how he has promised upgrades to recruits for years. They honor their commitment to make it to campus, but the university has not upheld their end of the bargain.

For example, at the 2020 lead-off dinner, Vince Tyra announced the plans for a state-of-the-art indoor facility which included a $3 million donation by Kroger to kickstart the funding. Not a single pile of dirt has moved to begin this project nearly 3 12 years later.

On the contrary, Coach McDonnell is one of the highest paid coaches in the country with a rolling contract that will include a salary of $1.5 million, plus bonuses, once we reach 2028. His program has an annual budget of $5.2 million, which is good for 13th in the country. We can all agree that is respectable.

That being said, the fans have expectations to not miss the NCAA Tournament two out of the last three years. That’s also fair, but McDonnell was not blaming the lack of commitment on the losing season. He spoke for over 11 minutes about the current season before the question was posed about his plans for being here next season.

He stated that he has been “very vocal and challenging over the last 12 months” with the administration. Adding, “You walk around. You walk through the dugout. You walk under the stadium. You see what differently have we done since 2000 whatever?”

Let’s take a quick look around the ACC. This is Clemson’s locker room:

And Wake Forest:

Or check out Virginia’s baseball stadium:

And finally, UNC’s baseball stadium:

Compare those to the facilities in Louisville. I don’t think you will find the same thing.

His message was clear, he just wants a level playing field and an administration that is committed to his program. He closed with this, “I want to work for people and be with people and a group that wants to win as well. Don’t tell me you want to win, show me you want to win. That’s all I ask for.”

McDonnell has won plenty of games here, 719 to be exact, but his program has not performed up to his standard in two of the last three seasons. Fans are putting pressure on him and he is putting pressure on his boss. He is Louisville baseball. Prior to his arrival, this program made the NCAA Tournament one time and with zero tournament wins. Since then, he has taken his team to the College World Series five times with nine super regional appearances in 17 seasons.

So, what gives? Time will tell.