By Sam Draut–
The University of Louisville is built on and around the Athletic Department. Therefore, the University of Louisville should continue to fund growth within the Athletic Department.
Two weeks ago, Athletic Director Tom Jurich announced the $55 million expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium that will add 10,000 seats, 1,000 club seats, 65 premium level boxes and ten exclusive field level suites.
“We’ve been working on this for a long time,” Jurich said. “We’ve got a great foundation here. We’ve got a great coaching staff and the conference is great. So I think the stars are aligning. We didn’t just wake up one day and say we want to expand; we really gave a lot of thought to this.”
While players, coaches and fans marvelled at the continued growth, some in the academia complained the University didn’t have their priorities straight.
Quite frankly, the University of Louisville should continue to pump money into its Athletic Department because it is the school’s lifeline for national notoriety.
Some students have griped about the increase of tuition as they watch athletic facilities build up around campus.
But, giving student-athletes the best possible facilities is the most important responsibility of the University.
Continuing the upward trend of growth within the Athletic Department should be what the University of Louisville primarily funds.
A student-athlete is worth more to the University than a traditional student because the student-athlete actively represents Louisville on a national perspective.
Take Teddy Bridgewater for example, the former Cardinal quarterback that now plays in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings.
During his three years at Louisville, Bridgewater gained national exposure and represented the University of Louisville.
People around the country thought of the University of Louisville as Bridgewater played his collegiate career at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
While Bridgewater and other student-athletes gained national notoriety, students who do not positively represent the University of Louisville complained of increased tuition rates and the Athletic Departments spending habits.
These same students are the ones who would rather tailgate in a gravel lot then support a nationally ranked football team.
It isn’t the administration’s priorities that need rearranging, it’s the student body at the University of Louisville.
After removing a small contingency of passionate fans out of the student body, the remainder of the student body couldn’t care less about Louisville sports.
And it is these students that do little to nothing for the University compared to the student-athletes competing with Louisville across their chest.
So, the student body that complains about not being the administration’s top concern should stop, because they shouldn’t ever be the primary focus.
For nearly two decades, Jurich has built up Louisville’s athletic department while students have come and gone from the University.
The students that the University of Louisville remembers most are the students who competed for the school’s athletic teams.
But, the students who spend four to six years aimlessly wandering through the traditional college life are forgotten before they even leave.
And why would anyone remember these students who did so little to contribute to the University.
Expanding stadiums, building new athletic facilities and supporting student athletes is where Louisville should send its money.
The expansion to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium will help bring in better student-athletes and potentially lead to winning more football games, which is all that should matter to the University of Louisville.