By Matt Bradshaw —
On Feb. 22, athletic director Vince Tyra announced UPS is committing $5 million to the athletics department. The gift is part of a 13-year agreement that will create programs within athletics in support of student-athletes.
UPS plants are already an integral part of the U of L experience, flying over students’ heads at a prolific rate. That partnership grows closer with the new development between the international shipping company and Louisville Athletics.
“We have established a terrific partnership with UPS over the last 20 years,” Tyra said. “We are now excited about the level of support and array of programs designed to strengthen this partnership.”
One aspect of the agreement looks for long-term benefits: the UPS Leadership Academy. The program will support sophomore student-athletes in developing a framework for leadership as they grow in their collegiate careers. Topics of the academy include leadership roles, emotional intelligence, enhanced career opportunities, servant leadership, goal setting and networking.
Another incoming program is the UPS Executive Speaker Series, which will feature leaders around the world from fields like management, aviation, Human Resources, sales and public relations.
“Freshmen get on campus and need to get acclimated as a student-athlete, finding out how to do time management and get academics in line,” Tyra said. “In the sophomore year, we’re really trying to move them to what’s next in life.”
Other aspects of the $5 million deal include high-level internships for student-athletes, as well as extending naming rights for the UPS Flight Deck at Cardinal Stadium. The venue’s upper deck earned its name in 2009 when UPS committed $3 million to the expansion.
“Our hope is that when someone is watching a game from the UPS Flight Deck, they’ll not only think of our beautiful aircraft overhead, but realize we’re connecting global communities with everything from medical supplies to e-commerce,” UPS Airlines President Brendan Canavan said. “Continuing the relationship with the University of Louisville helps us educate a future workforce with the benefit of a tuition-free education.
Essential to the relationship between UPS and U of L is the Metropolitan College, where students work for the shipping company and take classes tuition free. The opportunity looks like it’s here to stay, as UPS continues growing closer to the University.
UPS began its airline operations in Louisville back in 1982. Now the city’s largest employer, Tyra hopes the partnership will help spur similar growth at U of L in years to come.
“We’re going to continue our partnership, not just another 13 years, it’ll be longer that,” Tyra said. “UPS will certainly grow here in the community and we’re excited about how the University can do that, for our student population as well as our student-athlete population.”
Though some speculated the $5 million commitment as related to naming rites for Cardinal Stadium, Tyra declined the connection. He said naming rites for the stadium have remained “dormant” and that there will be a “time and place” to talk about it in the future.
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Photos by Matt Bradshaw / The Louisville Cardinal