U of L athletic director Tom Jurich remains committed to assistant football coach Clint Hurtt.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Charlie Strong and Tom Jurich don't have to tell you how much recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt means to the University of Louisville football program. You can see the love in Hurtt's pay stub.
According to the Kentucky state employee database, Hurtt's 2012 annual salary was $350,000.
That's more than several university deans. That's more than any of Rick Pitino's assistant basketball coaches. That's more than Shawn Watson, the coordinator who called the plays for the U of L football offense.
That's more than any U of L assistant coach except Vance Bedford, the Cards' defensive coordinator. Words are wonderful. But a hefty W2 form makes a statement: The University of Louisville is invested in Clint Hurtt.
"Since Clint's been here, he's never done an iota wrong," Jurich said.
Jurich knew that was a sound bite that will live forever if ever proven wrong. He did not backtrack. Despite the notice that arrived from the NCAA this week, Clint Hurtt keeps coaching, keeps recruiting, keeps earning his considerable pay without any restrictions. U of L doesn't have to be as committed as it is.
"It's important to me that I want to look at the job he's done here," Jurich said. "He's earned a lot of equity for that."
Other than Strong, there hasn't been a coach more essential in moving the Cards from the Big East also-ran pile to Sugar Bowl champions. Not because Hurtt knows how to teach the three-point stance. Hurtt has changed tax brackets because of his ability to recruit, especially in Florida. His work is reflected across the U of L roster.
That's worth remembering. Yes, Clint Hurtt deserves the chance to defend his actions to the NCAA as much as any assistant football coach does. But Clint Hurtt is not any assistant football coach.
The NCAA has serious issues with the way Hurtt did his job at Miami, not Louisville. The issues surfaced initially in a report that Yahoo! Sports broke in August 2011 based on stories shared by Nevin Shapiro, a disgruntled Miami booster and convicted felon who befriended Hurtt.
The problems were outlined again this week when Hurtt received his charge of unethical conduct from the NCAA. The NCAA says that Hurtt broke rules and then provided false information to its investigators.
If that's so, it's a career-killer for Hurtt and a major stain on U of L for allowing him to proceed without restrictions. If Hurtt prevails, then his reputation has taken a hit the NCAA cannot undo.
Louisville has yet to flinch in its defense of Hurtt – unless you considered it flinching when Jurich refused to say that Hurtt will be a member of Strong's staff next season. Hurtt will continue to coach, recruit and work as if the NCAA has never mentioned his name.
"What I've said all along is that since it did not happen at the University of Louisville Clint is due his due process," Jurich said. "I think that's the only fair thing we can do as a university.
"Clint's side of the story is much different than the allegations are so I think we wait the 90 days and see how it unfolds then."
The unfolding story is likely to be as confusing and contested in 90 days as it is today. The Miami investigation is a mess.
The NCAA has already been forced to toss about 20 percent of its case because of what it admits was unethical work by several investigators. The NCAA has managed to look as rogue as a Miami program that has forged its identity for decades with rogue behavior.
The Associated Press is reporting that three other former Miami coaches have asked the committee on infractions to dismiss their cases because of mistakes made by NCAA investigators. At least one Florida politician wants the state to investigate the NCAA.
Where is Hurtt in this?
Aligned with legal counsel and prepared to defend himself. Jurich said that Hurtt has told him that he disputes many of the NCAA's allegations and remains eager to tell his story.
He will get his opportunity. That is where a vigorous defense always begins. That doesn't mean Hurtt is going to win – or lose. Predicting the outcome of an NCAA investigation is more difficult than predicting the NCAA Tournament winner. This one is more perplexing because the NCAA has already fired some personnel involved in the case.
The NCAA has promised a quick resolution. That's difficult to imagine or believe. The attorneys have just started to clear their throats.
But for now Jurich and Strong remain where they have been since this story began – all in with Clint Hurtt.