Growth, innovation, achievement and excellence have been the trademarks of Tom Jurich's tenure as the Vice-President for Athletics at the University of Louisville for the last 15 years.
Since coming to the Derby City in 1997, Jurich's desire and vision has led the Cardinals to unprecedented development and accomplishment. His efforts received national acclaim when he was selected as the 2007 Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal/Sports Business Daily Athletic Director of the Year.
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 UofL AD in the fall of 1997 stands as one of the most significant events in our state's modern sports history." After just eight years working his constructive efforts, he was inducted into the state's Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006.
Jurich has guided a whirlwind of accomplishments that have caught the eye of those who follow collegiate athletics across the nation. Special things continue to happen in Louisville, with a vibrant personality leading the way.
UofL took a dramatic step toward maintaining that upward trend by signing Jurich to an unprecedented contract extension in December of 2006 and subsequent enhancements that will keep him with the Cardinals through 2023. In an unprecedented appointment, he was named Vice President for Athletics at UofL in 2003.
"Tom is an energetic leader," said UofL President Dr. James Ramsey. "He has the advantage of being able to see the world of collegiate athletics from the viewpoint of a coach, an administrator, an athlete and a parent because he has worn all of those hats in his career. He has the vision to create a model program, assemble an ambitious group of talented coaches and staff, build world-class facilities and create educational as well as championship opportunities for hundreds of student-athletes. He is committed to creating a forward moving, competitive and compliant culture that reflects well on our university."
Since Jurich was named Director of Athletics for the Cardinals on Oct. 21, 1997, there has been an unmatched flurry of activity on the UofL campus and Louisville area since his arrival.
"The pride and passion this community has in our athletics program inspire me to do my absolute best every day," said Jurich. "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."
Jurich continues to push UofL to the forefront of college athletics and keep the Cardinals on the cutting edge nationally, turning heads while guiding major changes in Cardinal Athletics including:
Engineering UofL's historic move to the BIG EAST Conference. Since joining the league in 2005, the Cardinals have won 50 league championships, the second highest of any school during that time.
Attracting men's basketball coach Rick Pitino to UofL 11 years ago, a move many deemed impossible. Pitino's arrival energized the Cards' tradition-rich program and quickly restored it to a position among the nation's top teams. UofL began play in a new downtown arena, the KFC Yum! Center, in 2010.
"We want an athletic program that is strong across the board. We want all of our sports to have an opportunity to be competitive and win championships. I believe strongly in having a complete athletic department, not just fielding teams that meet prescribed numbers."
- Tom Jurich
Taking a major step in achieving gender equity, upgrading funding and support staff for existing women's programs while adding four new sports -- softball, golf, rowing and lacrosse. Jurich's efforts also moved field hockey, women's soccer and baseball to fully-funded programs. He received the Citizens for Sports Equity 2000 Sports Leadership Award and was honored as Louisvillian of the Year in 2005 by the Louisville Urban League Guild.
Rapidly building the football program. The Cardinals have been ranked in the top seven twice in the last eight seasons, including the school's first BCS bowl berth in 2006. An expansion of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium was completed in 2010.
Addressing multiple facility needs, including an extensive sports park to serve as a front lawn for the University. Owsley B. Frazier Cardinal Park features Ulmer Stadium (softball), Trager Stadium (field hockey artificial surface field),a soccer field surrounded by a state-of-the-art track, fitness trail and a playground. Three new facilities opened in 2005: Jim Patterson Stadium(baseball), Ralph Wright Natatorium and the Trager Center indoor fieldhouse. The Yum! Center, a practice facility for volleyball and men's basketball, opened in 2007 and the Marshall Center/Field Hockey Complex opened its doors in 2008. A boathouse -- the Garvin Brown III Center -- was completed in 2010, capping off new facilities for every UofL sport over the last 14 years.
Strengthening UofL's athletic administration by enlarging the compliance department with the school's first associate athletic director for compliance and adding the school's first female associate athletic director/senior woman administrator.
Placing UofL on the cutting edge of sports medicine with a comprehensive partnership with Louisville's world-renowned Jewish Hospital.
Bolstering the community outreach arm of UofL athletics, developing L-Care and CardsFIT to promote student-athlete community involvement.
Academic success has risen dramatically during Jurich's watch as well. Those earning recognition on the UofL Athletic Director's Honor Roll (3.0 or better grade point average for a semester) increased to a record 329 of 514 student-athletes for the 2012 spring semester and the combined GPA for all sports was a record 3.110.
Jurich's high energy, community and family-minded approach has been contagious, infecting the university, city and UofL fans everywhere with a positive outlook for the future of Cardinal Athletics. It is a formula that has provided a trail of success in each situation Jurich has touched.
Jurich has been active in the scope of college athletics on a national level, within conference issues, and in his local community. He served three years as a member of the NCAA Management Council, one of the top legislative bodies of the NCAA, and the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee. He sits on the Board of Directors for Republic Bank and American Heart Association.
"They should build a monument to Tom in Louisville."
- College basketball analyst Dick Vitale, after Rick Pitino joined the Cardinals
Jurich recently received the Louisvillian of the Year Award by the Louisville Advertising Federation and the Dan Mangeot Memorial Award, for contributions to the advancement of tourism and hospitality. He shared UofL's prestigious Hickman-Camp Award, presented for exemplary contributions to the athletic department, with his wife Terrilynn in 2007. He was named the 2007 Louisville Magazine Person of the Year.
Guiding Colorado State University as its athletics director for the four years prior to his arrival at UofL, Jurich oversaw not only one of the most successful time periods in the school's history in terms of on-field competitiveness, but he was the driving force behind a successful capital campaign drive that included facility renovation.
Prior to his constructive efforts at Colorado State, Jurich operated as director of athletics for eight years at his alma mater, Northern Arizona University. When appointed at NAU, he was the youngest director of athletics at the NCAA Division I level at the age of 29. He was honored as the NAU Alumnus of the Year in 2011.
He became athletic director at Northern Arizona in 1988, after previously serving as co-director (1986-88) and assistant director (`84-86). He was inducted to the NAU Sports Hall of Fame in 1989 and received its 2011 Alumnus of the Year award.
Jurich is among the finest football players in Northern Arizona history. A punter, placekicker and backup quarterback for the Lumberjacks, Jurich earned first-team Kodak All-America honors in 1977 -- the first collegiate kicker to make the Kodak honor list -- and also received All-America 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).
A 10th-round NFL draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jurich later played with the Minnesota Vikings before a brief coaching stint at the University of Minnesota.
He and his wife, Terrilynn, a former Miss Wyoming, have four children: sons Mark -- associate athletic director of development at UofL who is married to wife Lainey with sons Jay Ryan and Thomas Jack -- and Brian; and twin daughters, Haley and Lacey, who are both currently students at UofL.