IN HIS OWN WORDS | Tyra news conference: 'We need an elite head coach'
University of Louisville interim athletic director Vince Tyra's comments after Wednesday's announcement that David Padgett would not be retained as basketball coach.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville interim athletic director Vince Tyra sat down with reporters on Wednesday after the school announced it would not retain interim coach David Padgett as the team's head coach.
Tyra opened with a lengthy statement, then took questions.
Today is obviously big news not just for what is going on in our basketball program but in the history of our program. As we've talked about we've had very few head coaches in a long time, and over the last six months we've had another one in David, and he's done a really admirable job, not just with the kids but I think certainly with you guys, the media, I think with the administration he's been terrific and providing a lot of leadership, we certainly produced 22 wins and along the way you never know what can happen with 18-22 kids, and I think he's done a nice job in that regard and we had a nice conversation about that today, and where that's going to take him in his next role in coaching, which I know he's anxious to think about. Today, as most of you know, we sat down and had a discussion, talking about where he is and where we are and frankly what we can do to help him.
I was pretty clear that we're encouraged certainly by what we saw here. He wasn't expecting to jump from the third seat to the first seat, and not many people are at any university, particularly the level of program and scrutiny that we have at the University of Louisville. It is an elite program. It's going to remain an elite program. And our opportunity right now is to hire an elite coach to maintain that.
We certainly didn't make the NCAA this year, and everybody knows that our expectations are much higher than that, to compete for national championships. They're difficult to come by. We've only had one in the last 32 years and it got snagged away from us. We're going to work hard to get back in that circle and we're going to do it right away. We have a lot of talent on this team. I spent a lot of time trying to stay close to those kids, stay close to their parents, and gauge their interest in being here.
As most know, I just came from speaking with the team and fielding any question they want to ask me. I'm generally open on those things, without trying to say who my lead candidate is and what the process is. I'm as clear with them as I'll be with you, not all that interested in talking about the process today other than it's alive. They have their own feelings about where it is. They're more interested in timing as much as anything else. But, you know, we'll maybe get to some of that in some of the questions.
But today, from what occurred at the end of September to where we are, I certainly didn't expect to be in this role back then, along with David. And I've enjoyed working with him. He's provided a great face to this program. And he's got a terrific future in front of him. I know that he's learned a lot, provided a lot, and probably has a ton of takeaways. I think once any coach or player gets away from the season has a ton of reflection. When you're in the season it's difficult to grow, sometimes.
I know that his career is going to grow after this. He and I talked more about, as calls come in related to his career, how we can handle that and how we can foster his career going forward. He was a part of this program as a player, he spent a part of it as an operations and assistant, and he'll always be a part of this program. Much like we shine the camera on Denny Crum and many of our terrific alumni if this basketball program, they'll do the same for David for many years to come. And I look forward to seeing him around the program.
But today we are going in a different direction as we pursue the opportunity to get us an elite coach and return this program to where we want it to be. There's a lot of interest, as you guys know. It's going to create for great talk over the next week to ten days, or however long it takes us to get to that point, and we'll do our best to try to land the best candidate. That's all we can really do at this point. The one thing I will say is that in terms of level of interest, it's high.
I think we're so close to it here at Louisville, in the community and at the university, that we're hypersensitive about our own issues. I would tell you that the candidates see this as a long-term run. They don't see it as thinking about the next year or two or very short-sighted. Most of them are thinking about this in a way that they're in a good spot, and they see this as a better spot. That may seem odd for you to hear that because you're in it every day, but I assure you that the interest level is high. And we're excited to hear people say they want to be a part of it, which is part of the criteria, that they can love this place like we love this place, and they can see themselves here for a very long time, and they have the same aspirations, and more importantly, the same ability to get us back to that elite level where we can compete for championships.
So we've got through a rugged season. It wasn't the success that we'd like to have had. We had changes and things occurred. We had games that didn't go our way. But in the end, we're at a point where I think it came to kind of a, I hate to say a peaceful close here, as we get to the end of the year with the last three NIT games at home. I certainly enjoyed the energy we had from our fans. It's the beauty of where I've sat as a fan and where I get to sit as an interim AD is the passion of these fans. It's exciting to see how engaged they are. I've got thick skin so I don't mind the issues that they bring up or things they want to say. It's because they care, and they want to be a part of something and they want to see it get better. We've been spoiled. I'd like to see this get back to where we expect it to be. So with that I'll open it to questions.
Q: Has the interest level surprised you?
TYRA: Not at all. Because I think there was interest initially when we named David the interim, and if anything, just over time it seems maybe people had more time to think about it but the interest is there. These are great quality coaches.
Q: Are you going to hire this coach? Is there a committee?
TYRA: I think that the way we've played this out, we're up against the AD selection, it's probably best-suited that the sitting AD at that time make this call. I think we're close to it anyway, whether it be myself or someone else. All due respect, I don't think it's going to change the feelings of these coaches. I think whether it's Scooby Doo or Vince Tyra I think they're interested in taking this job.
Q: What are Scooby Doo's qualifications?
TYRA: High intellect. 48 vertical. No . . .
Q: What do you tell coaches who ask you that question, who want to know who they're going to be working for?
TYRA: It's a good question, but I'm straightforward with them. I just tell them that my interest level is high. There's a process going on. I try to educate them as far as I know what the process is. I don't know every step or every candidate in that. But I do know there's a timetable they're trying to work through to resolve it. I know we've all been clear the end of the month. It's what I requested as well, because the Final Four is there, and I'd like to see our head coach on a national forum in studio wearing red talking about how excited they are where they're going to take this program.
Q: To what level have you gotten into discussions with candidates?
TYRA: A little. It's now happening, right? Because I tried to ignore the process myself, out of respect to David, and not really get going on it. But it's certainly active today.
Q: With the FBI investigation, do you feel a strategic interest in offering a longer deal?
TYRA: I think I'm being thoughtful about that in terms of if there were things that came up along the way during their tenure here, how we would address that, and give them comfort that we're, if we need to extend it, comfort that we'll be in that discussion.
Q: So you're not looking for a "patch" coach to get through the next 2-3 years?
TYRA: Absolutely not.
Q: You've done this is in the business world, but this is so high-profile, will . you stay off social media and not worry about what people are saying and where you might be eating dinner or doing things?
TYRA: Yeah I just kind of live my life. And on that front, I'm generally one way, as far as just being helpful and supportive of the teams on social media. I don't want to get into a lot of exchanges, although it's easy to try to get people to bait you. I'm just tone deaf to it. I try to stay focused on what we can control. I know people are sensitive about it. I know yesterday was quite funny when I heard I was in Cincinnati, when if they checked the parking garage my car was there all day, and I'm eating Panda Express at my desk yesterday out of the sack. So I didn't go anywhere. I think there's a lot of that (reporting) that's going to happen, but you try to work through it. But it's not going to faze what I'm doing. A lot of these things, I'm thoughtful in a process, I've been in the process for recruiting C-level people and I would consider this a C-level person.
Q: Will you lean on people as far as anybody in basketball that you might know?
TYRA: I think you'd probably be surprised at what my circle is. Most people would be surprised that I've been living in the background of these things in Louisville but I'm a little more connected. I'm not going to say that I'm more connected, but that's one of the areas you think about in this role. But I have been here six months, and been to conferences and certainly been involved with our ACC and what I would consider some of my peers in the ACC to discuss this. It's no secret that this process was going to happen, so there's been discussion for six months.
Q: Would you prefer that the next coach have head coaching experience?
Q: What do you like about those types of candidates?
TYRA: Just experience. I mean, a personal example, being a COO versus a CEO is a big difference. Being a CEO and being a chairman is a big difference. I think being an assistant coach and being a head coach is a big difference. We've seen that. And I would say that I don't think our programs today, based on where this athletic department has gone based on Tom's leadership, to get us to where we are in the ACC, that we're a stepping stone. All these sports and these head coaches, much like we attacked the lacrosse coach situation, we need an elite head coach. We're not a stepping stone. So we're going to look for an elite head coach here.
Q: How important is this hire, given how fragile the fan base is right now, and given that it'll be a big hire for the new athletic director moving forward.
TYRA: I recognize the importance of it. All you've got to do is look at the history books here. I think I recognize the expectations I think if I were still sitting in my seats I'd have high expectations, probably would still be sending the same emails that I get from fans saying, "pick this guy." Or they stop me in the corridor at the Yum! with who their favorite is. It's just part of it. And it's not going to be unanimous. There's no way you could be unanimous in this. I don't know that we've had that in really any of the picks we've had in any of the major sports historically. And this one it's going to be the same. I do think people will understand once we get there why we chose who we chose and how they fit the culture of this university, how they're going to run a clean program, and how they're going to win.
Q: Does style of play enter your thinking for a coach?
TYRA: I try not to get style too much into it, because I don't want it to be my personal preference of style instead of what suits us. Frankly I can look at the talent we have, but you have to look at the longer-term view in terms of what we think is right. But we've enjoyed an exciting style, fast-paced, pressing and so forth. And from there, I'll think about it, but I don't think it's the highest criteria today.
Q: What kind of conversations do you have with players who are deciding whether to say?
TYRA: Just what their concerns are, what their thoughts are. Those are private conversations, same as I would have with their parents, just being out front, being communicative. I approach them, they approach me, let them ask what they want and try to address as best I can. They're intrigued. They're interested. I'm sure they're all weighing what they've got going on. We've got a couple of seniors who are leaving and Anas and Q sat with us while I talked to the rest of the team. They're a part of this program. They're going to graduate here, and they're done playing, but they're still a part of this program. That's the unique thing about it. That's why we show video of my dad's team. I met Phil Rollins last night of the '56 NIT team. They're still a part of this program.
Q: At what level do you start this process until you or someone else is named full-time athletic director?
TYRA: I don't want to get into that, but I'm clear on my authority on what I can do in this role, and how I can go about attracting someone and what resources I have to do that.
Q: Butch Beard and Jerry Eaves have been very vocal about minority hiring. Do you expect to interview African American candidates?
TYRA: Yeah, I think that's part of the process. I think there's more African-Americans that are head coaches today, and I think there will be more, for good reason, and should be more, for good reason. But I think that's something that I've got to consider going into it. I'm obviously going to pick what I think is the best candidate, but I think assessing that is definitely a part of it.
Q: What input does Greg Postel have into all this?
TYRA: I think Dr. Postel has been supportive of the decisions I've made to date. I'm crystal clear on him on where my thinking is and making sure I understand the university's guidelines and boundaries on this as we make these kind of decisions and move forward and where approvals sit and so forth, but he's been supportive of my decisions to date. I don't know that we've had any real disagreements to this point.
Q: What kind of financial availability is there for this job, from you guys?
TYRA: We have a $100-plus million annual budget in athletics.
Q: Was there anything David could have done to keep this job?
TYRA: I think that's water under the bridge at this point. I'm proud of what he's done. I think he's done some good things and learned from some of the things. I listen to his comments postgame and talk to him and so forth, and I think he recognizes where he learned and was learning and looking back on games and so forth. But I think it's less about did David do anything wrong and more about what I think the needs are of the program.
Q: The cloud overhanging the program, what would you tell a candidate about the possibility of an NCAA death penalty?
TYRA: The possibility of a death penalty I would say is very low. The beauty of this now is they (coaches) are pretty clear on NCAA bylaws themselves. They get trained just like all of our coaches do. They understand when you're on probation if you make mistakes what potential ramifications are. I think since our particular case was exposed more than others, they have more information than most would maybe on some other schools.
Q: But with the Bowen thing on top of the prior probation . . .
TYRA: Well I think the fact that we're on probation and stubbed our toe again while on probation, to what degree will the facts will eventually unfold and tell us, but look, they've got plenty of information on their own without me having to divulge any of the facts that I can't divulge to them.
Q: Can the NCAA give you guidance on possible coaches?
TYRA: The NCAA or the FBI? Because the NBA doesn't know a thing. They don't know any more than I do, maybe even less. It's an FBI case at this point until it becomes an NCAA issue.
Q: So has the FBI helped you guys at all:?
TYRA: I think just a pure exchange of information. They're limited in what they can obviously expose at this point while they're investigating.
Q: How valid are reports that Chris Mack is the leading candidate?
TYRA: Little today. I don't think anything has any merit until we have somebody signed up.
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