By Larry Croom, The Louisville Cardinal Editor In Chief from 1984-85 —

When I was much younger and in college, I came close to flunking out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life and was floundering.

As I was sitting on a park bench pondering my bleak future after receiving some really bad grades, I saw a news rack for the University of Louisville newspaper, The Cardinal. I thought that might be a cool career, so I gave it a try. I remember that first byline like it was yesterday. And a year and a half later, I was the editor of that newspaper.

The Cardinal set the paths for many of us, including Tim Easley, one of the best photographers I know; Jeffrey Lee Puckett, a very talented writer for the Courier-Journal; photo director Jeff Ford and Ann Hatter Sydnor, the business director who kept us all in line to make a profit.

My year as editor, 1984-85, was beyond special — something I cherish to this day. I saw Tim blossom into an award-winning photographer as we kicked the almighty WKU’s ass in the annual college journalism contest. I haven’t kept in close contact with Jeffrey Lee Puckett like I should have. That’s my bad, because I sure enjoyed working with him (and playing songs over and over that drove him nuts – yes, Jeffrey, I saw the video!!!!!)

I read his stuff all the time and he still is an amazing wordsmith. I’ve unfortunately lost contact with Jeff Ford, my talented photo director who also worked with me in California. I regret that because he was a great friend and roommate.

And while Ann and I haven’t talked in awhile, she’ll always be a very dear friend that I was fortunate enough to meet through that newspaper. Together, our team partied hard – many times!!! We put out great editions, one of which was a huge challenge because our typesetting machine lost the letter “a.”

I’m sure everyone remembers my 2 a.m. tirade when I spewed out, “Do you have any idea how many words have the $&@@$(;&@ letter ‘a’ in them!!!!!!!” No one will ever forget the Christmas party at the house Jeff Ford and I rented, nor the end-of-year bash.

Together, we won awards. We had a damn good time along the way. And luckily for me, that newspaper paved the way for me to work as a clerk/correspondent at the CJ and then start my career as a reporter in Victorville, California.

What, you ask, is the point of this long-winded diatribe? First, let’s remember that I’m a columnist and we all write long. That’s just the way it is! But more importantly, I’m told that the university is cutting off funding to The Cardinal and it might be forced to close. I find that disheartening at best.

That newspaper is responsible for me and many others finding successful careers and making something of ourselves. I seriously hope this decision isn’t final and The Cardinal continues as a training ground for students.

But if it goes away, I’ll be the first to say “thanks” for helping me figure out what I wanted to do for a living 30-some long years ago. That said, shame on you, U of L powers-that-be. You are making a huge mistake. And here’s a novel idea — maybe you can stop having embarrassing scandals that cost millions in attorney fees.

Maybe you all actually might do your jobs for a change and act like you’ve been there before. And maybe instead of paying those millions of dollars to lawyers and investigators to protect your precious wins, you might consider spending it on things like the student newspaper that provide learning opportunities for students. Just a thought…