By Joseph Lyell —
Interim President Greg Postel said U of L hired a new legal counsel to continue handling the athletic association’s litigation with former men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino and potential litigation with former athletic director Tom Jurich.
Stoll Keenon Ogden was representing the university when the Courier Journal reported the firm hired a private detective to investigate Jurich.
At ULAA’s Feb. 1 meeting, Postel said the decision to hire the detective was made by an SKO employee. He said the university knew they were gathering information and performing due diligence, but did not know the extent.
“We weren’t aware of the details, the kind of individuals they were speaking to, and that sort of thing,” Postel said.
Postel said the decision to switch from SKO to the new firm from Lexington, Dinsmore & Stohl was made independent of the revelation about the private investigator.
“You can’t connect the dots that way,” Postel said. He said the specifics of the litigation cannot be discussed publicly, but the change is part of the university’s legal strategy.
Postel also said the search for a permanent athletic director will be expedited, with hopes for a hire by the end of March. A search firm will be named Feb. 13.
In compliance with ACC guidelines, ULAA says they will advance the plan to build a television production center by fall 2018. The facility will be used by both athletic programs and students.
Director Bill Stone said the project will be notably beneficial to the communication department.
Postel said the $8 million proposal was the first bill approved by Kentucky state legislature in its 2018 session and will be signed by Governor Matt Bevin this week. The university is seeking a 10-year loan for the project.
Director Steve Jones asked where the money for the project will be coming from, given the budget issues the association is already facing.
“I think we can tighten our belts to make this budget work,” Interim Athletics Director Vince Tyra said.
He said athletics will see more revenue in the coming year, with an extra home game on the football schedule and a game against defending national champions University of Alabama.
Tyra also said after a year, U of L will become eligible for a share of ACC network money, and the program will pay for itself.
Kenny Klein, senior associate athletics director for media relations, said the facility will be on Arthur Street, near the Nine Apartments.
Tyra also recommended the board charge the same price for football season tickets next season. The overall price of the season package will increase as a result of adding a seventh home game to the schedule, but he asked the board to keep the same rate for each game.
The board discussed a decline in ticket sales and attendance at both football and men’s basketball games.
Men’s basketball ticket revenues were $2,886,898 short of their projected budget of more than $16 million at the end of the year. Football ticket sales missed projections by $218,493.
Tyra said fewer ticket sales is reflective of a national trend that affects both professional and collegiate sports. He was more concerned about getting “butts in seats.”
He said the fans are healing after losing Pitino and Jurich in the fall. He also said low attendance could be attributed to unlucky weather on game days. The decline has also affected concession sales and parking.
Student representative Vishnu Tirumala said the athletic association’s meetings with students have helped address problems related to attendance. Students were having trouble transferring tickets to friends or family when they couldn’t attend. Many said they often couldn’t get seats together.
Tyra said the new website, implemented in January, is helping to solve these problems.
Photo by Joseph Lyell / The Louisville Cardinal