By Kyeland Jackson —
Following news of U of L’s involvment in an FBI investigation, administrators placed its athletic director and men’s basketball head coach on administrative leave.
Greg Postel, U of L’s interim president, put Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich on leave Sept. 27. Postel said interim replacements for Pitino and Jurich would be announced within 48 hours, and also said a player involved in the FBI investigation is suspended from play.
The following Friday, Sept. 29, David Padgett was announced as the new interim basketball coach.
Reactions were swift as dozens of media personnel surrounded Postel for the announcement. Lights and cameras trained on Postel and David Grissom, chair of U of L’s board of trustees, illuminating the cardinal logo on the wallpaper behind them.
Among those from the media was Billy Reed who’s covered sports for decades. Though they were suspended, Reed says Jurich and Pitino will be gone soon and said the move is necessary to reset the university’s image.
“It just pains me to see what’s happened, but for the good of the university … I think that the time has come that the university has to make serious changes,” Reed said, instructing Pitino and Jurich to follow their consciences. “If you really mean that the best interests of the university are — if that comes first, then do what you can to prove that.”
Before the conference, students stopped and stared at media members prepping through the glass entryway. Some took photos, others entered and watched the conference.
According to a TLC poll which ended Oct. 1, 42 percent of respondents said Pitino and Jurich should be fired. More than 30 percent said only Pitino should be fired.
TLC’s poll tallied 238 respondent’s answers.
Three students who watched had a personal stake in the discussion, as hockey players at U of L.
U of L senior Grant Hennessy is one of those three students. Hennessy said they came to hear what would happen and said putting Pitino and Jurich on leave was a good decision.
“They’ve both done a lot for this school, but sometimes good things have to come to an end. But, we’ll have to see where that goes,” Hennessy said.
Sophomore Jared Deflippo agreed with Hennessy. Deflippo didn’t expect this when he left Connecticut for U of L, and he’s disappointed by ongoing negative news about the university.
“As a student, obviously, you want your school to do well and be thought of in a good way,” Deflippo said. “I came here for the sports culture, to hopefully see them succeed [in] basketball and football, but obviously it’s taken a step in the wrong way with basketball with what’s going on today.”
After the announcement, two recruits withdrew their commitment to U of L.