LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- University of Louisville Athletics Director, Vince Tyra, stopped by WDRB in the Morning on Friday.
It was Tyra's first visit to WDRB, and he discussed a variety of topics including what it was like taking over for Tom Jurich, and the NCAA's recent decision that opens the door for student-athletes to be compensated for the use of their likenesses.
Tyra told us learning to work with the NCAA, and coming into the aftermath of scandals that resulted in the firing of Tom Jurich and head basketball coach Rick Pitino were some of his biggest challenges.
"You've got to get used to the good ole NC-Double-A," Tyra said. "I think that's a different thing versus security exchange commissioner at OSHA, or something like that. But other than that, I think just -- you know it's a lifestyle job. I think that's the thing you've got to get accustomed to, is you got to want to go to games, and your weekends are going to be tied up except for the summers. And that part of it is taxing at times when you've got a lot of commitments to make, but it is rewarding when you see the kids having a good time, particularly when they're winning."
"I can't speak too much to the past. Obviously when I walked in, there was kind of a frightening feel around the athletic department. Most of the Olympic sports were concerned about budget cuts, and things like that. Coaches were unsure -- those that had been here a long time, that had been with Tom, were unsure about a new guy, particularly a business guy.
"Because I'm not the traditional AD, and I'm still not. I've taken a more unorthodox approach to things, but that just takes time. I think like anything else, it just takes time. And the thing I was committed to was we'll be open, we'll be wide open. Whether it's the budget, and even while we hired Scott, or we hire other people, or if we have to make other changes, because we certainly made some reordering decisions that take time. But where we are today, I think people know that they're paying off. I think our fans and donors have gained that respect and trust that we're doing things, the right things. And I think as a leader, it starts with me. And I think you've got to be fearless to make the right decision, and we've done that."
Decision process behind hiring Scott Satterfield
The Louisville football team is off this week, and by all accounts, the team has had a remarkable turnaround from last year since hiring Scott Satterfield as head coach. Tyra said he knew he made the right choice from a long list of qualified candidates.
"I've said this before. In business, and in this job, I've tried to stay disciplined to the characteristics or traits we need to be the best fit. And there were winning coaches out there. There were more glamorous resumes than Scott's -- a former NFL coach or top-notch college coaches that really had interest in this program. Because I think they see the resources we have. I just felt like where we were as an athletic department, and where we were going culturally, that Scott fit best.
"He was definitely a winner. He developed players. He thought that was important. Not that he has to be, but he's a very faith-based player, and our team is that way, with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and I felt like he was going to bring a staff around him. He had already done that at Appalachian State, done it well. They've had a terrific season since he's left, they're in the top 20. I felt like he could repeat that here with more resources, and hopefully the opportunity to recruit even higher level talent.
Paying athletes for use of likeness
Tyra said he supports the NCAA's decision to let student-athletes profit when their likenesses are used.
"I'm for it. I think it has to be within certain guardrails. But I think they are students first. We always stay 'student-athletes.' And if you believe that, then they should have the same rights as students have. And I think that, whether it be a social issue, or in this case an economic issue, they should be able to do the same. If they're going to have a YouTube channel, or if they're going to do something as an influencer on Instagram and things like that, I think you just have to get some guardrails around it. I don't think you want to be on the payroll of the university. I want to try to protect amateurism and the collegiate model as best as possible. I think it's one of those things that we've got to sort, but I don't think they're going to be using our brand, meaning the university's brand. I don't expect you're going to see them out they're wearing University of Louisville or Kentucky or Duke and all that. I think they'll be trying to do that on their own. And that may be a bit of a challenge for them, but we'll see. Hopefully, there's good guardrails by the NCAA."
As far as players like Lamar Jackson, a player whose jersey was profitable for the university, Tyra said there's a possibility the player could receive part of the proceeds.
"I think if they go down that path, and allow them to use University of Louisville branding, where there's his name on the back -- I would expect that's going to be the case. But student-athletes are likely going to have to sign up as a licensee. That's a whole other thing as to how do they make money, and when do they get it. Because someone said it should be in a trust until when they're done. Which I'm not for, I think they should just get it then. And we don't have the staff to manage that. But then just do you bring more financial education to those athletes that may benefit from it. They may need help in how to handle that, if it's anything of real value."
Some people have mentioned that student-athletes who may not reach superstar status won't benefit much from the new guidelines.
"That's the thing, I've talked to our student-athletes and I think they realize -- in the ACC there's a student-athlete advisory committee that's around all the time. And the leaders of that have spoke at our conference meetings, and I don't think many of them are expecting to be able to profit from it. I think they see it as more of it's going to be the top athletes in men's basketball, maybe women's basketball, maybe for us baseball and football. But they don't see it as one that's going to be broad spread. So we'll see how it works out."
"I don't know that it's going to hurt the college game. I think other rules hurt the game more. You know most people worry that it hurts the college game on recruiting. but I think the actual game itself -- this whole one and done and things in basketball -- those are things I'm probably more about how it impacts the college game than I am about whether we have good guidelines from them to benefit from it."
"It's similar stuff. You don't want to have another Level 1 or Level 2 NCAA violation. Ending each year, I think, with a financial surplus is important. We're definitely focused around the student-athletes. Winning NCAA and ACC championships across some of these sports. We have so many that are ranked in the top 25 today. It's definitely important to us. I think those are some goals, but I think we also have some resource and facilities things we need to get done. One thing I think of is we should be financially self-sustained. I mean I don't want to draw on the university. We've gotten that down from $7 million to $2 million, and I hope to get it to zero."
The U of L men's basketball team plays Miami on Nov. 5.
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