CRAWFORD | Louisville interim AD Tyra cuts his own salary, and four other items from his news conference
Louisville interim athletic director Vince Tyra met with reporters for about 25 minutes prior to Thursday's basketball game against Georgia Tech. Five highlights from the discussion.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – In a wide-ranging news conference before Louisville’s basketball game against Georgia Tech at the KFC Yum! Center Thursday night, interim athletic director Vince Tyra updated reporters on his moves to reorganize the athletic department, expansion details for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and moves to curtail department spending, including cutting his own salary by $350,000 per year.
Tyra said there is no update on when the NCAA might release its decision on U of L’s appeal of NCAA sanctions into its men’s basketball program, but that he wanted to update some other issues that have been in the news with the department.
Some of the highlights:
1). TYRA CUT HIS OWN SALARY. Tyra said he’s hoping to save $1 million out of the athletic director’s office, with $500,000 in that savings coming from salaries and the other half coming from cutting items the department does not need. He began with his own salary, shaving $350,000 per year off the $1.2 million contract he was offered when he took the interim job in the fall.
Tyra said he took the averages of the three highest-paid athletic directors in the ACC to come up with the figure -- $854,000 per year, and took just a bit less.
“We’re trying to set the tone on tightening things up, to protect the student-athlete experience,” Tyra said. “Should there be (financial) shortcomings in any way, I don’t want anything to change in the way we treat these athletes, and how we pay these coaches. . . . We’re going to keep the top coaches in there. We’re going to pay them the market. And in the same vein I should be the same, as long as I’m in here, and whoever comes in in the permanent position should be the same.”
2). STADIUM EXPANSION AMOUNTS TO ABOUT 6,000 SEATS. In all of the reporting, and in all of the estimates from university officials at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, the number of seats by the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium has been “about 10,000.” Tyra said on Thursday that the actual number of seats that will be added is closer to 6,000.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the expansion, and everybody seems focused on the seat count, but the kids coming in here looking at our facilities are more focused on the complex,” Tyra said. “They’re looking at the Trager. They’re looking at the at the weight training. They’re looking at the training room and a variety of things. When I sit through these weekends with recruits and their families, they’re looking at the whole package. . . . They’re looking at the Thornton’s Academic Center and the housing the university has invested in.”
Tyra said such improvements are showing up in the types of recruits football coach Bobby Petrino has been able to land.
“Just for clarity, the expansion is not 10,000 seats,” Tyra said. “It’s closer to 6,000 seats. The way the end zone expansion was designed it was about fan engagement and fan experience. I think you’ve heard about players walking through the live crowd down below and walking through the suites. . . . If there’s a question about, was there 10,000 originally, I don’t know what the original plan was. But that’s where our seat count is. We’re doing the RFP now. And we’ll know exactly the seat count. But that’s where the original financials were run from was 6,000 not 10,000, as I’ve been able to dig in and do the due diligence there.”
An architectural plan for the expansion, completed in February of last year, shows 5,171 chair-back seats, though U of L communications and its website continued to list the expected added capacity at 10,000. That includes 1,492 seats in the lower deck, 272 Loge seats, 357 at Club level and 446 at the Mezzanine level, plus 2,564 in the upper deck and 40 ADA and companion seats throughout the expansion.
3). KEN LOLLA, OTHER COACHES SIGN EXTENSIONS. Men’s soccer coach Ken Lolla is one of the most respected soccer coaches in the nation, has led the Cardinals’ soccer team to back-to-back Elite Eight appearances and, notably, was one of the stronger voices in support of former athletic director Tom Jurich.
On Thursday, Tyra announced that Lolla has been signed to a five-year extension with enhancements. He also announced that volleyball coach Dani Busboom Kelly and women’s soccer coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes had signed contract extensions.
4). DEPARTMENT REORGANIZATION. Tyra said that after taking a look at U of L’s athletic department and consulting with other athletic directors, as well as having conversations with people in the Atlantic Coast Conference and at the NCAA, he is moving forward with a plan to restructure the athletic department.
Last week, U of L announced the termination of the employment of associate athletic director for development Mark Jurich, the son of former athletic director Tom Jurich, as well as senior associate athletic directors Kim Maffet and Julianne Waldron. On Thursday, Tyra described those moves as “difficult,” but asserted his belief that they “were in the best interests of our department.”
Asked if he had any trepidation over making those kinds of moves while still an interim, Tyra quickly answered, “No.”
He then added, “Because I’ve done this before and you do what’s right for the business, you don’t worry about the emotions attached.”
Tyra said that he’ll create two new associate athletic director positions, one for student-athlete health and wellness, preferably a person with a medical background, to consolidate athlete services under one administrator, and an associate athletic director for administration, to handle human resources, legal, contracts, student conduct and Title IX issues.
“There are things we had to accordion,” Tyra said. “. . . We are the stewards of the student-athletic experience, not the other way around.”
5). OTHER ITEMS. When asked about his reaction when Indianapolis radio host Dan Dakich reported two weeks ago that the NCAA has denied U of L’s appeals, Tyra said, “I was embarrassed for Dan.” . . . Tyra said he continues to meet with groups of 30-50 donors before home games and is meeting with larger donors in their offices. “You’ve certainly got noise out there,” Tyra said. But he added that while those who pull donations make headlines, he’s not running to the media every time he adds a donor to the program. He said his focus is on expressing a vision for the department moving forward. “We’ve got terrific fans,” he said. “Theyre passionate. . . . The greatest part of growing up in this community is how passionate these fans are. I’m one of them. I have to hold myself back at road games.” . . . Asked about the statement from Tom Jurich’s public relations company that last week’s personnel moves were “retaliation” at Jurich, Tyra said, “Mark (Jurich) and I are close friends. That’s not an easy one, but I’m trying to do what’s best for the athletic department and university, so I’ve got to put that aside. It may seem like a cold act on one end, but it’s far from retaliation. It’s what’s best for the student athlete experience and what we’re trying to get done.”
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