LETTER: Attorney argues 'willing' Tom Jurich should retain athletics director position
In her letter, attorney Alison Stemler defended Jurich's compensation packages, called the extended adidas contract "fantastic" and said Jurich "remains willing" to resume his role.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Tom Jurich's attorney has sent an open letter to the board of trustees of the University of Louisville arguing against firing the embattled athletics director, saying that Jurich "remains willing" to resume his role.
Late last month, Jurich was placed on administrative leave with pay after it was revealed that the U of L men's basketball team was involved in an FBI bribery investigation.
In the letter, which is dated Oct. 11, attorney Alison M. Stemler of Frost Brown Todd Attorneys LLC attempts to make a pragmatic case for retaining Jurich.
"As most in the Louisville community have expressed, parting ways with Tom isn't in the University's best interest, especially now, when strong leadership is needed to be sure donor support remains intact, fans continue to buy tickets, and NCAA punitive action is minimized," Stemler said. "Tom is in the best position to help U of L through this difficult time, as he has helped U of L weather other difficult times and continue to move forward in a positive manner."
The letter cites high-profile community members who have publicly expressed confidence in Jurich as an athletics director, including Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.
Stemler goes on to defend the recent contract extension between the university and adidas, despite allegations that representatives of the athletics apparel giant were also caught up in the federal bribery probe, pointing out that the new contract provides $15 million worth of funding for the Papa John's Cardinal Stadium expansion as well as a product innovation center at U of L.
"The terms of the existing and the new adidas contract are fantastic for U of L, and the negotiations did not involve any improper or illegal activity," Stemler writes. "The existing contract provides significant benefits to U of L, including a highly valued internship program that draws students to U of L and cash royalty fees for sales of merchandise. These are in addition to adidas products for all 23 sports. Payments are made to one coach, and this arrangement is a common one, was properly reported, and reduced what U of L would otherwise have to pay the coach."
Though Stemler argues for increased controls and admits that the relationship between U of L and adidas, "needs study in light of recent events," she maintains that, "U of L should continue to take advantage of the value of an apparel brand" that is worth "at least several million."
Stemler also is quick to defend Jurich's compensation package. While admitting that Jurich is "one of the highest paid AD's," she says that pay is "understandable and well earned," given "the total transformation of U of L athletics under Tom's leadership."
"Tom constantly checks in with coaches and athletes, and entertains boosters, community and donors," Stemler wrote. "He is on-call 24/7, 365 days a year. Many athletes and coaches have reported that is success is not only due to hard work, but also his open-door policy and his regular meetings with athletes, coaches and staff to see what they need to be successful and listen to any concerns. Tom goes to games (matches, meets) for all 23 sports, something many athletic directors do not do."
Stemler also points out that no allegations of wrongdoing have been brought against any other sports that Jurich had control over -- just the men's basketball team.
She said Jurich "remains willing to resume that role for the benefit of the University and its athletes, coaches, staff and fans."
"After spending 20 years at U of L and having hired all the current coaches, Tom feels a sense of responsibility to them and to the University to continue to work tirelessly as he always has to make U of L athletics the best it can be," she added.
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