CRAWFORD | Louisville trustees discuss basketball scandal, acting AD expected Tuesday
No action was taken by the University of Louisville board of trustees in a specially called Monday meeting, but interim president Greg Postel said an announcement of an acting athletic director should come Tuesday afternoon.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A special meeting of the University of Louisville board of trustees included a two-hour discussion in closed executive session Tuesday, but no action on athletic director Tom Jurich or men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino, both of whom were placed on administrative leave last week.
Interim president Greg Postel said that the process of evaluating Jurich, who is on paid leave, and gathering information from various sources is “ongoing,” and said that the announcement of an interim athletic director should come Tuesday afternoon.
Postel said that the university has been advised not to begin its own internal investigation into matters concerning the federal complaint unsealed last Tuesday, which implicated the men’s basketball program in a wide-ranging investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball.
“We are continuing to gather facts and learn about the investigation,” Postel said. “There’s only so much that’s known at this point, and we anticipate that there will be much more for us to learn and digest in the days to come. And that’s really all I can tell you. It’s an ongoing process of learning and evaluation.”
When it placed Jurich on leave, Postel said his situation would be taken up in a board of trustees meeting on Oct. 18. Pitino’s contract required a 10-day notice period be given to the coach if he were to be terminated, with a chance to present his own case to the board. U of L’s Athletic Association is scheduled to hold a 1 p.m. meeting on Monday to discuss matters pertaining to the investigation in executive session.
Pitino’s attorney, Steve Pence, says the university broke the contract when it placed Pitino on leave, saying the coach had been “effectively fired.”
One fan with a sign that read, “We want Tom,” stood in front of the Grawemeyer Hall administration building as trustees walked in Monday, emblematic of a move underway to garner support for Jurich. An online petition has been initiated, and alum and prominent donor Jim Patterson has written a letter to Postel and Gov. Matt Bevin on Jurich’s behalf.
Asked if he’d heard from many who were supporting the retention of Jurich, Postel said: “I’ve received every form of advice you can imagine.”
Postel reiterated that no one was fired in Monday’s meeting. When asked whether the money from adidas – which is alleged to have provided money to a U of L recruit with the help of at least one assistant coach at the school – is tainted, Postel replied: “There’s no way to know. I said earlier, we don’t even understand what’s in (the adidas contract). If it’s tainted in any way, we want no part of it.”
Before Monday’s meeting, letters given to Pitino and Jurich informing them of their university leaves were distributed to the media.
Included in Jurich’s is the claim that the adidas deal – announced in late August as a 10-year deal worth $160 million to the athletics department, “was conducted without timely or appropriate consultation with me or members of the board.”
It also stated, “The level of misconduct and criminal activity alleged to have been engaged in by your coaching staff, combined with the negative local, regional and national attention brought upon the University of Louisville by the Athletics Department, is unacceptable.”
Jurich and his staff were given instructions to preserve all documents of the department at the time of his being placed on leave.
Pitino’s letter says that the federal allegations against his staff are “disturbing and unprecedented in (their) allegations of willful misconduct, violations of NCAA Bylaws, and dishonesty, and serve to severely damage the reputation of the University of Louisville.”
The letter says that the violations described in the federal complaint violate the material terms of Pitino’s contract. In lieu of 10 days’ written notice, the school provided Pitino with 10 days’ pay, and notes that the leave without pay is warranted given the circumstances.
Pitino was informed that the unpaid leave will continue until the end of the federal investigation, or the end of the coming basketball season, at which time his employment will be re-evaluated.
Postel said it’s hard to evaluate the damage done to the university already.
“It’s hard to say,” Postel said. “No one likes to have their organization named in a federal investigation. The process is still evolving and conclusions have not been reached.”
Postel said that the NCAA has not informed the school that it is looking into the matter yet.
David Grissom, chairman of the board of trustees, said that the board would wait for facts before making any decision on Jurich.
“We do not want to rush to judgment about any personnel issue here at the university,” he said. “It’s very early in the process. Additional facts are coming to the president. So we want to make sure that when we address the issue on the 18th, it’s an informed decision.”
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