Oct. 17, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -
University of Louisville Vice-President and Director of Athletics Tom Jurich has been honored as the 2011 Northern Arizona University Dwight Patterson Alumnus of the Year. Jurich will be recognized at his alma mater during homecoming activities on Oct. 22 in Flagstaff, Ariz.
A 1980 graduate of NAU, Jurich was a student athlete there when the Walkup Skydome opened in 1977. He earned first-team Kodak All-American honors in 1977 - the first collegiate kicker to be named to the Kodak honor list -- and also received All-American acclaim from The Sporting News. He is the only kicker in Big Sky Conference history to be named the league's offensive player of the year (1977).
"It's difficult to single out one favorite memory while at NAU, but it would probably be when we opened up the dome in 1977. No one had seen a building of that size before and it was awe inspiring. I can remember having such a great feeling of pride for our school and the community to have such a wonderful building, and to top it off we won the game," says Jurich, who kicked a late-game 54-yard field goal to give the Lumberjacks a 25-24 victory over Montana. "I was as happy for the community to have the building come to fruition as I was in our team for beating a ranked team in our first game."
Jurich was inducted into the NAU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and later played with the Minnesota Vikings. After serving as a football coach at the University of Minnesota, Jurich was hired as assistant athletic director at NAU in 1984. He became athletic director in 1988 and served for another eight years.
"Margaret Ann [Hughes] worked with Tom when he was a student-athlete at NAU, and I appointed him as Athletic Director in 1988," said NAU President Emeritus Dr. Eugene Hughes, who co-nominated Jurich for the award with his wife Dr. Margaret Ann Hughes. "At that time, Tom was only 29 years old and the youngest NCAA Division I director in the nation. After his years at NAU, Tom became athletic director at Colorado State University. While there, he oversaw one of the most successful time periods in CSU's on-field competitiveness. In 1997, Tom moved to the University of Louisville where his desire and vision has led the Louisville Cardinals to unprecedented development and acclaim. In our opinion, Tom, and his wife, Terrilynn, '89, represent role models for every aspect of their personal and career lives. Tom is undoubtedly one of the finest and most successful athletic directors in the nation."
At the University of Louisville, Jurich's accomplishments led him be named the school's first Vice President for Athletics, inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006, and to receive Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal/Business Daily Athletic Director of the Year Award and the Louisville Magazine Person of the Year Award in 2007.
"I'm thrilled that my alma mater, which is a great school and I love dearly, would even consider honoring me with this award. I have so many fond memories of NAU and have built an abundance of terrific, long-lasting friendships. My playing days with the Lumberjacks were phenomenal, our teams had great success, and NAU gave me my start in athletic administration. I'm proud that both myself and my wife graduated from NAU," says Jurich.
"Tom is being recognized for his outstanding success and leadership in advancing collegiate sports and supporting student athletes," says Neil Goodell, Director of NAU Alumni Relations. "He has dedicated his life to shaping and influencing athletic achievements at NAU as well as other institutions and communities across the U.S. We are extremely proud of Tom's accomplishments and his long-time commitment to student success."