By Shelby Brown —

A group calling themselves Friends of U of L have raised more than $2,700 in 13 days for a billboard criticizing the university’s administration. Alex Walker, the group’s spokesperson and a U of L alumnus, said the group wants the university to succeed in athletics and academics.

The electronic billboard, reading “David Grissom and Greg Postel: Step Aside, We Do Not Support Your Leadership” is located in Jeffersonville near Interstate 65 south, before the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge.

“To be clear, our message is not intended to be a smear campaign against Mr. Grissom or Dr. Postel,” Walker said. “If they truly care as deeply about U of L as they have expressed, they would acknowledge that there are people better suited to lead our university.”

Walker said the group is committed to holding university leadership accountable for decision making.

The Paypal site was set up by Kristopher Abeln, a doctor in New Albany, Indiana. Walker said no singular person began Friends of U of L, but said they are a group of concerned Cardinal fans. He said some members are choosing to remain anonymous due to their connections with the university.

“We have a diverse group ranging from current students, former U of L athletes, donors/boosters, alumni and fans of the University of Louisville. Our common denominator is our passion for the University of Louisville,” Walker said.

In a statement, university spokesperson John Drees encouraged those who care about U of L to find a constructive way to support the university, its students, faculty and staff.

“This divisive, attacking message is centered on anger over the athletics program, but is harming the entire university,” Drees said.

Drees said administration has been devoted to improving U of L this past year. He said leaders have resolved the $48 million budget deficit, overseen the return of U of L Hospital, worked to remedy the U of L Foundation from previous administrative foul ups and restoring full academic accreditation with SACS.

“These accomplishments have come despite dealing with serious athletics issues and constant attacks from those who refuse to acknowledge them,” Drees said.

Walker said the group is focused on the university as a whole, not just athletics.

“The administration is currently trying to label our group as disgruntled fans of the athletic department — that claim is patently untrue,” Walker said. “If our concern was related just to the athletic department, we would focus angst towards the person in charge of the athletic department. The tactic being used by the administration is exactly what we were anticipating. The leadership team has shown time and time again that they are incapable of taking responsibility for their actions.”

Walker said the group hopes the billboard will be a one-time project, but they don’t think that will be the case. Walker said Friends of U of L will continue until the university has a leadership team who acts in the best interest of the institution.

“Our group has been in contact with local business owners who are thrilled to help in any capacity we may require. The feedback we have received from the community has exceeded our wildest expectations. It seems that our relatively small group is more effective at attracting donors than what our current leadership has been able to achieve for the university,” Walker said.

File photo / The Louisville Cardinal