University of Louisville athletics department to get "thorough l - WDRB 41 Louisville News

University of Louisville athletics department to get "thorough look" as John Schnatter sidesteps media

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Papa John's International founder and CEO John Schnatter at a meeting of the University of Louisville board of trustees, of which he is a member. April 26, 2017 Papa John's International founder and CEO John Schnatter at a meeting of the University of Louisville board of trustees, of which he is a member. April 26, 2017

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) --  Two weeks since he made explosive comments about the University of Louisville Athletics Association and its director Tom Jurich, Papa John’s International CEO John Schnatter rebuffed a horde of reporters who attempted to ask him to elaborate.

“I’m happy,” Schnatter said while scooting past television cameras on his way out of a meeting of the university’s board of trustees on Wednesday.

Schnatter is presumably “happy” that U of L Interim President Greg Postel is familiarizing himself with the finances and operations of the university’s athletics association and its $96 million annual budget. Postel, by virtue of his position, chairs the athletics association’s separate board of directors.

Postel told the trustees Wednesday that he is getting a handle on athletics and that Jurich will begin attending trustees meetings regularly.

At the board’s last meeting April 12, Schnatter, the trustees’ vice chairman, said the athletics association needs to be “fixed” and that it “scares” him. He implied that Jurich is unaccountable to the university’s governing board, calling him “invisible.”

Schnatter described a private conversation in which Postel told him there was little chance of getting Jurich to come before the trustee board. Postel has denied that, saying he meant only that athletics officials don’t attend trustees meetings as a matter of historical practice.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Postel outlined his plans to improve oversight of the athletics association, saying “quite a few” new board members would soon be appointed and that he would evaluate the membership of the athletics board’s various committees.

Postel said the changes would begin Thursday when the athletics board – on which Schnatter also sits – meets.

“Things are going to be very busy and there are going to be a lot of meetings and activities related to athletics,” Postel told the trustees Wednesday.

But Postel told reporters that his “thorough look” at athletics is simply part of his responsibility as the university’s leader and not a response to Schnatter’s concerns. Postel said he knows of nothing about the athletics department that’s troubling.

Postel, who took the job in February, said he is just now looking into athletics because his first two months were consumed with pressing issues like University Hospital’s split from KentuckyOne Health, the university’s accreditation status and its budget for the fiscal year starting July 1.

“Athletics is a very important part of (the university), and so I am working my way down the list,” Postel said.

At the April 12 meeting, Schnatter complained that the expansion of the football stadium bearing his company’s name, Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, was over-budget by $5 million.

But Postel told the board Wednesday that the stadium expansion is in fact on budget, while pointing out that it’s an important venue because it “bears the name of the one of the university’s most generous donors.”

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2017 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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