LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – For the first time since resigning as University of Louisville athletics director, Vince Tyra sat down with some members of the local media on Tuesday to discuss his time with the department, his thoughts on the university moving forward, and the events that led to his departure.
Tyra opened with a 20-minute statement, which included an impassioned support of where the department stands today, as well as his four-year tenure with the university. He said he supports the elevation of Josh Heird into the position of interim athletics director and said that he believes Lori Gonzalez is hard-working and will be successful in the role of interim president.
Here are three other major topics he covered:
1). HE DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT PRESIDENT NEELI BENDAPUDI'S COMING RESIGNATION. When Tyra wrote his letter of resignation from the university last Wednesday and sent it via overnight mail, Tyra said he didn't know that U of L president Neeli Bendapudi the next day would be leaving for Penn State University.
Tyra did say he withdrew his candidacy at Florida State and made the decision to stay in Louisville.
Asked if knowing Bendapudi's intention would have impacted his decision to resign, Tyra said, "It would have probably impacted it."
Asked if he felt the board of trustees should have notified him after Bendapudi told them of her decision, he said, "I can't speak for why they didn't notify me."
Tyra and Bendapudi were often depicted as being at odds, and Tyra didn't dispute that characterization, but he said that isn't unusual sometimes in leadership.
"Look, I've got respect for a lot of things she did and other things," he said. "In leadership, sometimes in management you're going to agree to disagree on things. And I think that certainly we didn't agree on everything. But, you know, it is where it is at this point."
Tyra did note, with regard to the university and athletics' leadership: "I think the leadership of this university needs to be clear where athletics is in the campus mission."
Asked to expand on that, he said, "I think the brand of Louisville is important and always has been, you know, where we've been, historically, nationally, and what it's done for attracting student athletes and students alike," Tyra said. "And I hear it all the time, you know, you get a manager for the baseball team, who tells me he came here because of Lamar Jackson. We know the impact when we're out there. And I know the impact that the brand, the marketing of the brand occurs primarily from the athletic department, the billboards, the signage, the things you see around town, when we have three football games that are on national television unopposed. . . . I've said all along, we got to carry the university's brand when we're talking about athletics, and I know there's a branding opportunity going on on campus. I'm not sure how that'll be rolled out or fulfilled."
2). TYRA SUPPORTED FOOTBALL COACH SCOTT SATTERFIELD. While Tyra acknowledged being emotionally frustrated at times during the football season, he said he never seriously considered firing his football coach, and that he never had a conversation with Jeff Brohm about the Louisville job.
"It's difficult to end the season losing to your rival in the way we did," Tyra said. "Hard to explain, frankly. But with that being said, I think (Satterfield) knows people want to call them 'contract years,' as Scott would put it. He wants to move in the house he's building right now and be there a long time. He knows he's got to win this (coming) year. That's the Mr. Obvious point. And I think that he's up for the task. And I think he's got a staff and bringing them more talent to do that. So, you know, time will tell, but we need to give him that support. It's been a tough three years to rebuild this program to where it needs to be from where we were as the worst rated defense in the country.
"I think what he did with what he had with (Mekhi) Becton and others that initial year helped him but it didn't solve the next couple of years," Tyra continued. "And with what he's doing and the talent, what he's doing in development, redshirting, some really big guys on the defensive line, bode well. So I feel like we're in a good spot. He did a good job getting to know donors over the last year, he'll do a better job getting to know fans over the coming year. And I think that's something that's also part of how you run this program and making sure that he's clear on it. They (fans) don't get to see some of his personality as well, that we get to see behind the scenes, he stays pretty stoic, and he's pretty reserved, but he's also about as competitive as you can be, if you're playing golf, or any kind of yard game. So I wish him the best."
Later, Tyra added, "I don't want to prognosticate. But we will have to deal with Scott's contract one way or another. If he wins, that's great. If not, you've got to deal with it a different way. But the athletic department will be in position to continue forward in a good state. I feel comfortable about that."
3). HIS THOUGHTS ON CHRIS MACK AND BASKETBALL. Tyra said that the decision to suspend Chris Mack was a "collaborative" decision and wouldn't characterize whether the board wanted to take tougher action.
On basketball, Tyra said, "Chris is having a heck of a time right now. Again, sometimes all that occurred in the past moves forward with those who come next. And he gets tagged with some of the things that occurred before, meaning everybody has a view of where we were. I have a different view of where we were when I stepped in, and certainly when he stepped in about six months later. And it's a challenge. I've been in those recruiting meetings with families, and what we're dealing with, and it's unfortunate what's going on with the NCAA, that we're still having to sit here and wait to find the hearing date and dragging this thing out. It just puts more pressure on him, more pressure on the program. And it's tough for fans, when you're not winning at the level that we've won at historically. But I still believe that national coach of the year hasn't forgotten the game. And he'll do his best to get the talent in here and compete, get us back into the postseason and has the ability to be our coach here for a long time to come."
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