Whether John Schnatter intended to insult Tom Jurich and the athletic leadership or not, his comments missed the mark during Wednesday's Board of Trustees meeting.
Schnatter's comments, which labeled Athletics leadership as "invisible," seem to be off-base and confusing to many around the University.
Schnatter attributed the invisible label to a conversation he had with interim President Dr. Greg Postel. But Postel quickly distanced himself from the comments. According to Louisville Business First, Postel said Schnatter "mischaracterized their conversation" and that vice president and director of athletics Tom Jurich was easy to reach and that they met regularly.
Those around UofL clapped back at Schnatter's comments Thursday.
"I would challenge you to tell me who the AD at Duke is, who the AD at Tennessee is, who the AD at even Kentucky is... some may know, but most don't," former Trustee Dr. Mark Lynn said Thursday on 790 KRD. "People know Tom Jurich."
"Tom Jurich is one of the most visible ADs in the country," UofL senior women's basketball player Cortnee Walton said on 790 KRD Thursday. "He not only knows my name, he knows where I'm from - not just Arizona, but Surprise, Arizona, and he knows my major. He's at hundreds of sporting events every year."
"Tom Jurich has gone to any BOT meeting that he was invited. He came to several during my 6 years as a trustee," former Trustee Dr. William M. Selvidge wrote on Facebook Thursday.
UofL Athletics spokesperson Kenny Klein responded: "Tom does not have any comment on what was said. Tom's leadership of our athletics program is well-documented, has been highly successful, fiscally sound, transparent and speaks for itself.
"The UofL Athletics Association Board of Directors has governed our department and been involved in all decisions."
And beyond being factually incorrect, Schnatter's comments are ill-advised.
Insulting Jurich, the man whose leadership helped usher in this golden age of UofL Athletics, seems very unwise. Before Jurich, the University was getting ready to get kicked out of Conference USA and was associated with colleges like Southern Miss, Charlotte, Tulane and others.
Now, largely due to athletics, Louisville is in a league with Virginia, Duke, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and others.
Schnatter said at one point that until the University Board of Trustees gets a "handle on athletics" then the rest of the University won't follow. I'm still not sure what that means and Schnatter left the meeting Wednesday without speaking further to reporters.
Jurich "has a handle" on athletics and has had a "handle" on athletics for going on 20 years. During his time the athletics budget and revenues have skyrocketed and the entire Eastern and Southern borders of campus have been completely transformed with new facilities, one of which bears the Papa John name.
Has it been all good, all the time? No, of course not, but athletics under Jurich has also increased the University's national prestige by winning NCAA national titles, winning dozens of conference titles and producing literally thousands of quality student-athlete graduates for our city, many of whom work for Papa John's, Yum! Brands and other local businesses.