Louisville formally fires athletic director Tom Jurich amid recruiting scandal

The Dagger
Tom Jurich had been the athletic director at the University of Louisville since 1997.
Tom Jurich had been the athletic director at the University of Louisville since 1997.

Hailed as one of the great athletic directors in the country only a few years ago, Tom Jurich is now out of a job.

Louisville formally fired Jurich on Wednesday in the wake of a federal investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball that has ensnared the Cardinals and a half dozen other schools.

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Jurich was placed on administrative leave days after the FBI revealed last month that Louisville was the beneficiary of a $100,000 agreement to bring a five-star recruit into the program. The Louisville board of trustees voted 10-3 on Wednesday afternoon to fire Jurich.

Such an ending to Jurich’s Louisville tenure once would have been unthinkable. This was an athletic director who elevated each of the Cardinals’ revenue sports to unprecedented heights and secured a place for the school in the ACC when it was in jeopardy of being stuck in a non-power conference.

Louisville basketball reached the second weekend of the NCAA tournament seven times in the past 12 years and won the 2012 national title. Louisville football has reached a bowl game seven straight years and produced the Heisman winner last season. And don’t forget Louisville women’s basketball, which has risen from irrelevance to two-time national runner-up.

Jurich’s undoing was standing by Rick Pitino through a series of tawdry scandals.

In Oct. 2015, escort Katina Powell wrote a book in which she alleged she was paid $10,000 over four years to provide women to dance for and have sex with Louisville players and recruits at an on-campus dorm. The NCAA ruled in June that Pitino failed to properly monitor his program, slapping him with a suspension and starting a process that could force the school to forfeit its 2013 national championship.

Pitino and Jurich argued that a assistant set up the scheme without their knowledge, and it worked. Both men kept their jobs.

The second scandal broke last month when a federal complaint alleged that at least one unnamed member of Louisville’s coaching staff was complicit in a scheme to funnel $100,000 from Adidas to the family of McDonald’s All-American Brian Bowen. Also mentioned in the complaint are three phone calls between a coach since identified as Pitino and James Gatto, the since-arrested and former head of global sports marketing for Adidas.

Pitino tried to play the rogue assistant card again, but it didn’t work. Louisville administrators demanded Jurich fire him, and when he wouldn’t, both men were let go.

Louisville formally fired Pitino on Monday. Two days later, Jurich’s dismissal was official too.

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