By Matt Bradshaw and Sam Combest —
Over the last two years, U of L athletics has traded out coaches like nobody’s business. A high turnover rate is expected whenever a new athletic director hits the scene, and not many could have handled that change better than Vince Tyra.
Son of men’s basketball great Charlie Tyra, Vince was named acting athletic director October 2017 before officially taking the position March 2018. He was centered in a unique situation following the departure of long-time leader Tom Jurich.
Tyra oversaw coaching hires with the diligence of a businessman and background in fervor for Card Nation. In December alone, athletics witnessed a fresh rotation of coaches due to resignations, terminations and retirement.
It began Dec. 3 with the announcement of Scott Satterfield as replacement for Bobby Petrino to become head coach of the football team. Satterfield led Appalachian State to three consecutive bowl wins and has since gotten down to business by building up his U of L staff and players.
“I’ve inherited an amazing staple of coaches and facilities from which to succeed and I’m thankful for it,” Tyra said at the presser announcing Satterfield. “Now we get to add one more.”
Little over a week later, the men’s soccer team experienced a completely unexpected change with the departure of Ken Lolla as head coach. The leader on the pitch for 13 years resigned his post to seek new challenges, prompting a coaching search on the hands of Tyra.
“We have enjoyed great success over the last 13 years under Ken’s leadership and appreciate his contributions to our program and community,” Tyra said. “Our university has made significant investments into our soccer program through resources and facilities, and the loft goals of our program will continue moving forward.”
On Dec. 18, it was announced that Todd Sharp was dismissed from his position as Ladybirds head coach for fiscal misconduct. The termination related to Sharp allegedly taking $40,000 from athletic department funds over the span of two years, a claim which his attorney Larry Wilder said is false and a public vilification.
Sharp’s dispute has yet to be resolved, and the Ladybirds have yet to acquire a new full-time head coach. On Dec. 27, two other athletic programs did manage to find new head coaches for their respective sport.
Tyra revealed John Michael Hayden as the replacement for Lolla to become men’s soccer head coach. He also announced Whitney Young would replace Courtney Trimble as women’s golf head coach following the 2019 season.
Both Hayden and Young had enormous success playing at the collegiate and professional levels of their sport, along with experience as assistant coaches at U of L.
“Hayden is a talented coach and relentless recruiter who enjoys teaching an attacking style that will foster ongoing success,” Tyra said. “Whitney was a highly accomplished player who has a stellar reputation for recruiting.”
The whirlwind of coaches in December was only the tip of the iceberg to Tyra, who already spent most of 2018 solidifying coaches for several key sports.
He hired Scott Teeter to take over the lacrosse program, Chris Mack to begin the new era of men’s basketball and Holly Aprile to replace long-time head coach Sandy Pearsall of softball.
Tyra also helped to enhance the contracts of Dan McDonnell and Jeff Walz, two of the most successful coaches on campus for baseball and women’s basketball.
With Tyra and President Neeli Bendapudi at the helm of the University, the skies seem clear and the prospect of the coming year looks bright. The coaches are set and the board is moving, so all that’s left to do is dive into 2019.
“I could not be more enthusiastic about where we are today and what is to come. As you know, I’m always about expanding the Cardinal nation and I do believe our very best days are still ahead of us,” Bendapudi said at the presser announcing Satterfield. “I could not be prouder or more thankful today for Vince Tyra.”
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Photo by Nancy Hanner / The Louisville Cardinal