University of Louisville, PR exec to cut ties over conflict with Jurich
The University of Louisville Athletics Association will cancel its contract worth at least $90,000 a year with public relations firm Boxcar PR after the firm and its founder, Bob Gunnell, began representing fired athletics director Tom Jurich in his personal capacity.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville Athletics Association will cancel its contract worth at least $90,000 a year with Louisville public relations firm Boxcar PR after the firm and its founder, Bob Gunnell, began representing fired athletics director Tom Jurich in his personal capacity.
The university released a document Tuesday saying Boxcar’s contract would end as of Oct. 31.
“Given recent developments, it has become evident to us that the parties’ interests are no longer aligned, creating a conflict for Boxcar to continue providing services to ULAA,” Sally Molsberger, a U of L procurement official, wrote in a letter to Gunnell dated Tuesday.
Boxcar had worked for the athletics association since at least July 2014 under a contract to provide "public relations and media consultation" services for a $7,500 monthly payment and up to $40,000 a year in potential expense reimbursements, according to documents obtained in a public records request.
Athletics association spokesman Kenny Klein said Gunnell called him on the evening of Oct. 18 – hours after the U of L board of trustees voted to fire Jurich – to say he was working for Jurich and that Boxcar’s athletics contract would need to be unwound.
“He has a conflict of interest that he identified himself,” Klein said. “…He was very upfront about it.”
In an interview, Gunnell said his work for Jurich began on Oct. 18, when Boxcar issued a press release outlining Jurich’s response to the board’s firing.
He said he told Klein that Boxcar would wrap up some unfinished work for the athletics department over the next week or two while Gunnell would personally stay out of the athletics work and keep staffers working on athletics separate from those working for Jurich.
Gunnell said he told Klein he wanted to end the athletics agreement as soon as feasible instead of going by the 30-day notice called for in the contract.
Gunnell acknowledged speaking to Jurich during the three-week period in which Jurich was on paid administrative leave from U of L, but he said those conversations were “as a friend” and not related to athletics department business or potential business on behalf of Jurich.
“Those conversations were, ‘Hey, how ya doing?’ and ‘I hope we can get this worked out,’” Gunnell said, adding that he has known Jurich for 20 years.
Gunnell, who declined to say what Jurich pays Boxcar, said he made the switch out of loyalty to Jurich.
“I met Tom Jurich the day he came in and first accepted the job at U of L,” Gunnell said. “We became friends long before I went to work for athletics.”