Aug. 8, 2002
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
University of Louisville Director of Athletics Tom Jurich has signed a contract extension to continue as the Cardinals' athletics leader through 2016.
The agreement, which speaks volumes about the stability for the future of the U of L athletics program, effectively extends the contract through Jurich's retirement age. The incentive-laden contract was approved by the Executive Committee of the U of L Athletics Association Board of Directors on Tuesday. The committee had received previous approval from the full board and the U of L Board of Trustees to complete the extension.
"I am overwhelmed by this commitment," said Jurich. "The pride and passion this community has in our athletics program inspire me to do my absolute best every day. This department and I have grown together significantly at a rapid pace. We have many building blocks in place but have so much to accomplish. I feel very privileged to be in this position and I sincerely appreciate the faith placed in my staff and I by the Athletics Association Board of Directors and Board of Trustees. I can assure everyone that I will continue to pour my heart and soul into this program."
Jurich, who finished second in the balloting for The Lexington Herald-Leader's 2001 Kentucky Sportsman of the Year, arrived on the U of L scene nearly five years ago and has brought about positive changes at a dizzying pace, quickly guiding major changes in the face of Cardinal Athletics.
Jurich had 10 years remaining on an unprecedented 13-year contract he signed in March of 1999, just 18 months after becoming the Cardinals' athletics director on Oct. 21, 1997 after four years in a similar position at Colorado State. There has been a flurry of non-stop activity on the U of L campus and Louisville area ever since.
Jurich's high energy, community and family-minded approach has been contagious, infecting the university, city and U of L fans everywhere with a positive outlook for the future of Cardinal Athletics.
"When you have one of the finest athletic directors in the country, you do your best to hold on to him," said U of L Faculty Athletics Representative Elaine Wise. "I work with him directly on compliance and academic issues, and he doesn't just provide lip service; he means it. What he has accomplished in gender equity is nothing short of amazing. It demonstrates his integrity and his commitment to all of our athletes, not simply to those who compete in revenue sports. He gets the best people on his staff, provides leadership and energy, then gives them the freedom to do their jobs."
"We're very happy with Tom's contributions to the university and look forward to continuing a long relationship with him," said Jessica Loving, chairman of the school's Board of Trustees.
"Tom is a highly competent, energetic leader who is committed to being here," said Junior Bridgeman, a former U of L basketball All-American and a member of the school's Board of Trustees and Athletics Association Board of Directors. "He has developed a model program, gathered a great group of coaches and support staff, and is enthusiastic about continuing the rise in our athletics programs. It is in our best interest to lock up his talent for as long as possible."
"It's a well-deserved extension, one that brings great stability to our university," said U of L Football Coach John L. Smith. "Tom is simply the best there is at his job. It makes me feel more comfortable knowing that our leader will remain in place for some time. He gives us and the other sports programs here a chance to win on and off the field."
"Not only is Tom the reason I'm at Louisville, but he's the premier athletic director in all of sports," said U of L Men's Basketball Coach Rick Pitino. "He is a tireless worker, a great leader and a wonderful friend. Having Tom in place to lead our department for such an extended period is a major boost to U of L Athletics."
"I'm elated that our university has moved to retain Tom," said U of L Field Hockey Coach Pam Bustin. "There has been dramatic development here in a very short time. I'm sure everyone wants to keep things moving in the direction we're going. Tom has been a major part of that, and I'm glad our university leadership recognizes that."
"If there's a better athletics director in the country, I don't know of him or her," said Julie Hermann, U of L Senior Woman Administrator and Associate Athletics Director. "With Tom's leadership, U of L has achieved so much so quickly on behalf of women, instilled an atmosphere of compliance within our institution, and moved all of our sports programs in the right direction much quicker than anyone could imagine. The next several years should be a great ride for U of L."
Jurich speaks openly of fielding 21 championship sports programs, an ambitious task which has already seen impressive results.
Among Jurich's first moves was to hire football coach John L. Smith. The Cardinals have reached four straight bowl games under Smith and have won the last two Conference USA Championships. U of L enters this year ranked 17th nationally in the ESPN/USA Today football poll.
Jurich attracted men's basketball coach Rick Pitino to U of L last year, a move many deemed impossible. Pitino's arrival has energized the Cards' tradition-rich program and made it one of the nation's top college basketball stories of the past year as he quickly produced an overachieving 19-13 team.
Jurich has led a substantial movement toward achieving gender equity since his arrival, upgrading funding and support staff for existing women's programs while adding three new sports softball, golf and rowing, which began competition in the 1999-2000 season. Jurich's efforts moved field hockey, women's soccer and baseball to fully-funded programs. He received the Citizens for Sports Equity 2000 Sports Leadership Award.
Jurich has addressed multiple facility needs, including an extensive sports park to serve as a front lawn for the university. Cardinal Park features a softball stadium, field hockey stadium with an artificial surface, track and soccer stadium, fitness trail, outdoor basketball and sand volleyball courts and a playground. A field house, natatorium, boat house and baseball stadium are also planned.
Academic success has risen dramatically during Jurich's watch as well. Honorees on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll (cumulative 3.0 GPA or better) rose from 44 in 1996 to 147 in 2002. Those earning recognition on the U of L Athletic Director's Honor Roll (3.0 or better grade point average for a semester) increased to a record 256 for the 2001 fall semester, a figure which represents nearly half of the total students involved in athletics for the Cardinals.
He has placed U of L on the cutting edge of sports medicine by developing a comprehensive partnership with Jewish Hospital in Louisville.
Jurich has bolstered the community outreach arm of U of L athletics -- a program very close to his heart -- in developing CardsCARE. The Community Action Response Effort promotes student-athlete community involvement.
Prior to a four-year constructive effort at Colorado State, Jurich operated as director of athletics for eight years at his alma mater, Northern Arizona University, where he was an All-America punter and place-kicker.
He and his wife, Terrilynn, a former Miss Wyoming, have four children: sons Mark, an All-America outfielder at U of L, and Brian; and twin daughters, Haley and Lacey.