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U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Thursday honoring University of Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich:
"Mr. President, It's been my privilege during my career to get to know a number of people in all walks of life who have been highly successful. However, I am hard pressed to think of a more conspicuous example of success than what Tom Jurich has accomplished for University of Louisville athletics in the last 15 years. Membership in the ACC is the culmination of his extraordinary leadership.
"Mr. Jurich has for 15 years served as the athletic director for the University of Louisville, my alma mater, and yesterday it was announced that UofL will be joining the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"The ACC will be a great home for UofL and the school's commitment to great academics, groundbreaking research and top-ranked athletic teams.
"Under Tom Jurich's leadership, student-athletes at UofL have been making and breaking records and stirring excitement deep in the hearts of Cardinals fans across Kentucky and all over the world. Since joining the Big East Conference in 2006, Cardinals teams have won 50 championships, with 10 of those in the 2011-2012 season alone.
"Our men's basketball team ranks number two in the Nation in total attendance records, and our women's basketball team ranks number two in the Nation for average attendance per game. Cardinals fans love their basketball.
"Tom Jurich masterminded the hiring of legendary men's basketball coach Rick Pitino, who has led the Cardinals to three Big East titles and two Final Fours, including one last season. Now ranked in the Top 5 nationally, this year's Cardinals team is well poised to make another run for the Final Four.
"Tom was responsible for hiring head football coach Charlie Strong, a legend in the making who has revitalized the Louisville football program by leading the Cardinals to two bowl games and a share of the Big East championship. Now in Coach Strong's third year, the Cardinals are 9 and 2, have been ranked in the Top 10 nationally, and have a chance to win the Big East title today and return to their second BCS Bowl game.
"Under Jurich's tenure, Cardinals teams have also brought home championships in sports as diverse as baseball, field hockey, men's soccer, women's soccer, volleyball, men's cross country, men's golf, women's golf, softball, men's swimming and diving, women's swimming and diving, men's tennis, women's indoor track and field, and men's and women's outdoor track and field.
"Tom Jurich has grown the school's physical facilities to be among the best in the country. Under his leadership, the men's and women's basketball teams began playing in the new, state-of-the-art KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville in 2010. It is an arena equal to any basketball facility, college or professional.
"Under Tom Jurich, an expansion of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium was completed in 2010, giving UofL football fans one of the best stadiums to watch a game in the country, with seating exceeding 55,000.
"Jurich also oversaw the construction of an extensive sports park that includes new softball and field hockey stadiums, a soccer field surrounded by a track, a fitness trail, and a playground.
"Tom increased participation for women's athletics, upgrading funding and support staff for existing women's programs and adding four new women's sports—softball, golf, rowing, and lacrosse. He transitioned field hockey, women's soccer, and baseball to fully funded programs. For his accomplishments, he received the Citizens for Sports Equity 2000 Sports Leadership Award.
"For his success as an athletic director, Tom was honored as Louisvillian of the Year in 2005 by the Louisville Urban League Guild, and he was nationally recognized in 2007 as Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily's Athletic Director of the Year. The University also recognized his enormous contribution to the institution by appointing him vice president for athletics in 2003.
"Yesterday, the totality of Tom Jurich's accomplishments was recognized when the ACC voted unanimously to accept the University of Louisville as its newest member. This is an exciting time for Cardinals sports fans. We relish the opportunity to play in the strongest league in the Nation and show that Cardinals are able to compete—and beat—anybody.
"So to my good friends from fine States like North Carolina, Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, Georgia, Massachusetts, and South Carolina—I say, look out.
"I've been pleased to get to know Tom well over the years, as well as his wife, Terrilynn, and their wonderful family.
"I don't think I've ever met anybody who has done a better job building an enterprise than he has, given what he had when he came to the university in 1997, and what it is today.
"He has built an athletic department that boasts a budget in the top 20 in the country, championship football and basketball teams, record-setting men's and women's basketball attendance at our new downtown arena, and enormous success for all of the other school sports that may not get as much attention, but are just as vital to the students and the community in Louisville.
"And he's done all of this while increasing academic success for student-athletes, with a record 21 of 23 Cardinal athletic teams producing a three-point-oh or higher grade point average in the most recently completed semester.
"It's an extraordinary accomplishment. I'm proud of my friend, Tom Jurich, and what he's done, and I want to extend to him my heartiest congratulations from this Senate floor. And say, Go Cards. Mr. President, I yield the floor."