BOZICH | Without cause Jurich's biggest win over Louisville administrators
Tom Jurich's biggest win over the University of Louisville was not the monetary settlement package of about $7.1 million. It was the school's admission that Jurich was fired without cause.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Numbers make headlines scream. They scream louder when dollar signs are added. Conversation is stirred. Debate ensues.
That is what happened Friday when the terms of the $7 million or so settlement from the University of Louisville to former athletic director Tom Jurich were announced.
We will fuss about those terms longer than we’ll be waiting for another U of L player to win a Heisman Trophy. It’s that kind of deal.
But here is what cannot be debated:
Without cause > $7.1 million.
Louisville’s admission that Jurich was fired without cause was the athletic director’s biggest win in the settlement that his savvy and persistent legal team scored over David Grissom and Company. As I tweeted Friday, the scoreboard tilted to Jurich $7.1 million, Louisville 0.
Without cause > $7.1 million because Louisville’s admission that Jurich was fired without cause restores and enriches Jurich’s reputation. Give me the price tag on that. I’d like to know. It’s more than $7.1 million.
Tom Jurich will be back — if he wants to be back. The man is about two months from his 62nd birthday, but 62 is the new 42 in the athletic administration game, especially when you have the energy, imagination and resume of a forceful leader like Jurich.
He’ll find a school that has lost its football glory and make it glorious again. There are always several of those jobs out there, with massive football stadium seats and suites to fill and national championships to chase.
Or he’ll find a behind-the-times campus eager to pursue king-sized athletic dreams. Jurich will get the construction cranes and victory parades humming — just the way he did at Louisville.
It is Jurich’s call now.
Without cause tells me U of L leaders confessed that they rushed and erred in the way they handled his dismissal as the school’s athletic director last fall.
The new leadership of the university wanted him out, well, because they wanted him out.
His refusal to discipline, suspend or terminate Rick Pitino was likely at the top of the list — as it should have been.
An increasing number of Louisville fans groan at every mention of Pitino these days. A much smaller number groan about Jurich. He is still admired and missed in ways that Pitino is not.
I’ll always believe Jurich could have stayed if he agreed to replace Pitino.
Loyalty, faith in the coach or stubbornness stopped Jurich from making that move. Mistake. There would not have been a change in the athletic director office if there had been a change in the basketball office.
Jurich was in charge about 20 years. Some tornadoes lack the force of his personality. That created enemies and stories to tell. That’s the name of the game at high-level leadership. There’s a short list of ADs who have two-decade runs, especially after NCAA investigators turn up at the basketball dormitory.
If Jurich did anything else wrong, you can officially file it under speculation. The folks at Louisville could not prove it — and there is every indication they tried. They had to re-process his termination papers to add the two most important words to the document:
Without cause tells me the leaders took a final temperature reading of the school’s fervent fan base and decided tossing Jurich’s legacy into the shredder was not a winning strategy.
The most direct route to getting the athletic department back to where coaches, fans and players want to take it was to settle with Jurich by admitting his dismissal was misplayed and that he and his family remain welcome at games for all the programs he helped drive to remarkable success.
But most of all, without cause tells me that Louisville has signed, sealed and delivered a path for Jurich to return to prime-time college sports administration.
Athletic director? Somebody will call him. That’s the safest bet on the board.
Conference commissioner? Has to be in play. The man navigated the Louisville program from Conference USA to the Big East to the American Athletic Conference to the Atlantic Coast.
Jurich learned the game from Mike Slive, Mike Tranghese and John Swofford, the best of the best. People answer his calls. They ask for his opinion. He’s a player.
Consulting, TV rights specialist, creator of a new professional league. Use your imagination. Somebody will find a job and make an offer.
Not only does Tom Jurich have the all clear to return to University of Louisville events, he has the all clear to pursue any job he prefers.
Without cause > $7.1 million.
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