By Ben Goldberger —
The rest of the country knows Kentucky for three things: the Kentucky Derby, bourbon and college basketball, all of which Louisville proudly puts on display.
“There is a reason why Louisville is known as the biggest basketball market in college basketball and always has the highest attendance at their games,” ESPN Louisville reporter Brian Hall said, later explaining how Louisville’s basketball tradition goes way back, winning nationals since the ’50s.
From state-of-the-art facilities, big-name shoe and apparel deals and highly ranked recruits, the University of Louisville is, in its essence, a basketball school. Just like basketball powerhouses Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, U of L is known for its strong basketball programs.
After a dip in success for the men’s program following the firing of Rick Pitino, the team is resurging under new head coach Chris Mack, coming in at number five in the country to start this season.
The women’s team is also looking forward to another successful season following a Final Four appearance in the March Madness Tournament last year. After losing a few stars from last year’s team, they filled their spots with highly ranked recruits.
This recent success of both programs elevates Louisville back to the basketball school status.
But is U of L still just a basketball school, or rather a sports school in general?
Last spring, the baseball team went to the ACC Championship and later went to the Final Four of the NCAA baseball tournament. They lost to the eventual national champions the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Both soccer teams were ranked during the season, with the women’s team finishing the season No. 14 in the country. Both teams are expected to make the NCAA College Cup.
The field hockey team is ranked No. 6 in the country and is currently competing in the ACC Field Hockey tournament.
Last season, the football team went 2-10, but this year the team is already 5-3. This is mostly due to first-year Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield. Aside from some key recruits, the team is practically made up of the same players. In spite of this, Satterfield has already led this team to five wins and is one win away from being bowl eligible.
Almost every set of bowl predictions include Louisville in a bowl, something they have not done since Lamar Jackson went to the NFL. This is leading to commitments from highly rated recruits, moving the football program closer to elongated success.
According to 247sports.com, U of L currently has 22 commitments for next year’s season. This is the 31st best-recruiting class in the country and the 6th best in the ACC.
The future is bright for Louisville sports across the board, showing that U of L has moved from being purely a basketball school to an all-sports school.
“There is nothing like basketball season around Louisville, but I do think Louisville is trending towards an all sports school,” Hall said. “All sports have a following, and our athletic department has done a good job investing into every program, showing success across the board.”
Basketball is still the school’s top sport, both skill and revenue-wise, but the other sports show potential to bring national attention to all of Louisville’s programs, not just the one on the court.
Graphic by // The Louisville Cardinal