March 4, 2004
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
The University of Louisville has extended the contracts of men's basketball coach Rick Pitino and football coach Bobby Petrino through 2010 and enhanced the 12-year contract of Vice President for Athletics and Director of Athletics Tom Jurich in a move aimed at retaining leadership in the Cardinal Athletics program.
"Today we make a commitment to the future of our hugely successful athletics program," said U of L President James Ramsey. "Our student athletes are achieving in the classroom and on the field, we've made great strides in gender equity and our facilities are considered among the best in the country. We have come far under consistent, stable leadership, and it's especially important for us to maintain that stability as we prepare to enter the Big East Conference.
"The athletics program is an asset to the entire university community," Ramsey added. "The program, its coaches and administrators help us recruit students, raise funds and reach out to the community and our many friends."
Opportunities for U of L will be enhanced with the Cardinals' move to the Big East Conference in 2005. Over the last three months, U of L has also extended the coaching contracts of volleyball coach Leonid Yelin, field hockey coach Pam Bustin and men's soccer coach Tony Colavecchia as the Cardinals look toward their move into the Big East Conference.
Jurich's leadership over the past year -- his sixth at Louisville and his 16th as a Division I athletic director -- is enviable for any program. He engineered U of L's historic move to the Big East Conference, which has a long-term relationship with the lucrative Bowl Championship Series. From facilities to gender equity, from community involvement to national leadership, Jurich's actions prompted one state media outlet to recently write that "It all shows yet again that the hiring of Tom Jurich, the architect of this Louisville emergence, as U of L AD in the fall of 1997 stands as one of the most significant events in our state's modern sports history."
Pitino had three full years remaining on a six-year agreement he signed with U of L on March 21, 2001. He has quickly restored the Cardinal basketball program to national prominence, rising among the nation's top 25 teams in just his second year and maintaining that presence with his current successful unit. With one regular season game remaining Saturday at Marquette, the Cardinals are 18-7, ranked 25th in the Associated Press and 24th ESPN/USA Today polls, and poised for the school's 31st NCAA Tournament bid. U of L reeled off 16 straight victories earlier this season, matching the fourth-highest ever streak for the Cardinals.
Petrino had four years remaining on the original agreement he signed with U of L on Dec. 23, 2002 that ran through 2007. The new contract provides increases in his salary, achievement bonuses and completion bonuses for the remaining six years of the agreement. He guided the Cardinals to one of its most memorable seasons in school history, his first as a head coach. He directed the Cardinals to a 9-4 record, a school-record sixth-straight bowl appearance, and guided an offense that set numerous offensive records.