March 9, 1999
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
University of Louisville Director of Athletics Tom Jurich signed to an unprecedented 13-year contract extension to continue as the Cardinals athletics leader through 2012.
The agreement, which speaks volumes about the stability for the future of the U of L athletics program, covers a ten-year period with a four-year rollover provision that begins at the end of nine years. The incentive-laden contract was approved by the U of L Athletic Association Board of Directors at a special meeting on Tuesday.
"Tom Jurich clearly has invigorated this entire athletic program in a short period of time," said U of L President Dr. John Shumaker. "This contract extension will help keep that momentum going. He's one of the best athletic directors in the country, and we want to keep him here for a long time."
Jurich arrived on the U of L scene just 15 months ago and has brought about positive changes at a dizzying pace, quickly guiding major changes in the face of Cardinal Athletics.
"This university and community have an incredible passion for athletics and it's been a great fit for my family and I," said Jurich. "The steps we are taking have our athletic department poised for the future. U of L has a great administrative team in Dr. Shumaker and his staff. Our athletics staff and I are eager to capture the endless opportunities locally and nationally. We have so much untapped potential upon which I want to capitalize."
Jurich became the Cardinals' director of athletics 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.
"Tom is the right person to lead U of L athletics and has demonstrated that in the short time he has been here," said Junior Bridgeman, a former U of L basketball All-American and a member of the school's Board of Trustees. "He has established a new attitude and atmosphere that has the athletics program moving in the direction everyone wants. He brings stability, enthusiasm and has a plan. We need to keep him as long as we can."
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 posted the nation's best turnaround in 1998 with a 7-4 regular season record (up from 1-10 a year ago), earned a berth in the Motor City Bowl, and opened Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, a 42,000-seat, state-of-the-art, on-campus football stadium.
U of L's women's volleyball team posted a 29-6 record and reached the final 16 teams in the NCAA. U of L's men's and women's basketball programs both earned NCAA tournament bids. The Cardinal baseball program has attained its first-ever national ranking, debut this week at No. 24 in the Baseball America poll.
Jurich continues to push U of L to the forefront of college athletics as it prepares for the new millennium. He is a strong advocate of Conference USA, where he chairs the Competition Committee and is an active participant in league matters.
"Both personally and professionally, I'm extremely pleased to learn of Tom's long-term relationship with the University of Louisville, particularly because of what it means to Conference USA," said Conference USA Commissioner Mike Slive. "The same high energy, confidence and leadership he has brought to Louisville, he has also invested in Conference USA."
Jurich has taken a major step in achieving gender equity, upgrading funding and support staff for existing women's programs while adding three new sports -- softball, golf and rowing, which will begin competition in the 1999-2000 season.
With a new football stadium erected, Jurich has focused his attention to additional campus facilities. U of L recently broke ground on Cardinal Park, a $48 million sports complex to include a softball stadium (scheduled for completion in September 1999), a track and soccer stadium (February 2000), soccer and intramural playing fields, basketball and sand volleyball courts, a playground, fitness trail, natatorium and fieldhouse.
Women's basketball games have been moved to Freedom Hall, some volleyball events will be played at Louisville Gardens, and baseball and field hockey will occupy the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center stadium and the training and office complex, vacated by U of L football.
Jurich has strengthened U of L's athletic administration by enlarging the compliance department with the school's first associate athletic director for compliance. He also added the school's first female associate athletic director/senior woman administrator and the department's first diversity director.
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, 18, and Brian, 16, and twin daughters, Haley and Lacey, who are 8.