LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- High-profile supporters of suspended University of Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich are pushing back against interim U of L President Greg Postel’s claim that Jurich failed to keep key people in the loop before executing a 10-year, $160 million extension of the university’s apparel sponsorship deal with Adidas.
In a “letter to the Citizens of Louisville,” athletics donors Jim Patterson and Dr. Mark Lynn, as well as Lonnie Ali, the widow of boxing great Muhammad Ali, said the Adidas deal was “vetted internally and externally” and “should have been celebrated” as a “record breaking contract.”
Jurich has been on paid administrative leave since Sept. 27, a day after federal officials unveiled criminal complaints alleging corruption in college basketball.
While no one at U of L has been charged in the probe, authorities allege that at least one U of L assistant basketball coach participated in a scheme to funnel $100,000 from Adidas to a prized recruit to secure his commitment to the Cards.
U of L has since appointed an acting athletics director from outside the organization, and the school’s board of trustees is set to take up Jurich’s employment status at its next meeting Wednesday, Oct. 18.
Patterson and Lynn, who are the namesakes of U of L’s baseball and soccer stadiums, respectively, had already taken public stances in favor of retaining Jurich.
In the letter, they and Ali blame the media for labeling the Adidas deal, announced in August, as “secret and negative” while omitting facts to “get clicks.”
In fact, it was Postel who first raised an issue with the deal’s approval in a Sept. 27 letter notifying Jurich that he had been placed on leave.
In that letter, Postel said the extension “was conducted without timely or appropriate consultation with me or members of the Board of Directors of the U of L Athletics Association.”
The extension was not taken to the U of L Athletics Association board for approval, though Postel told WDRB in a September statement that Jurich had authority to execute it without the board’s OK.
Asked for a response to the Patterson-Ali-Lynn letter, Postel spokesman John Karman said: “We appreciate the comments we’ve received from many people. Our goal is to make decisions that are in the best interest of the university and the community.”
The Patterson-Ali-Lynn letter also praises Jurich’s 20-year tenure, saying the school has “achieved milestone victories that have made Louisville the envy of many athletic programs around the country.”
Read the letter: