The fired athletic director apologizes for the university's recent controversies
Doug Proffitt: Does anybody need to say, “I’m sorry” to the fans, the coaches, [and] the students?
Jurich: I’ll say it. Sure, I’ll be the first to say it. I don’t want anybody to go through any of this – don’t want to go through it myself but it is. It’s reality, so you deal with it.
Doug Proffitt: So you want to say it?
Jurich: I do. I am sorry.
Doug Proffitt: Is it reasonable in your mind in any way that the board came to the conclusion that you were no longer effective as a leader of that department?
Jurich: That I can’t answer. I wasn’t apart of those meetings. It’s a new board. I think it’s foreign to everybody around the campus but I will always say I’m a standup guy – take things straight on and the buck stops with me.
The Board of Trustees is new but it has one powerful, well-known member who may have sealed Jurich’s fate after 20 years.
Doug Proffitt: When I say the name John Schnatter, what runs through your mind?
Jurich: I’m very appreciative of what he’s done. For 19 and a half years, I thought I had a great relationship with John.
Doug Proffitt: The moment he said in that meeting that was so widely covered that Tom’s invisible. Fix athletics and you’ll fix the university.
Jurich: I didn’t understand that, I really didn’t. I still, to this day, don’t understand that. No one in my department of the community would think I’m invisible. I never went to the Board of Trustees meetings because I was never asked to. I was told by previous three of four presidents, don’t go to these. You report to the Athletic Association – you go to those meetings. I’ve never missed an Athletic Association meeting.
Doug Proffitt: That must have hurt when Schnatter said you were invisible.
Jurich: We were coming back from the Air Force Academy and when we landed, my phone had blown up. I was shocked. I can’t lie to you, I was shocked.
Doug Proffitt: Did you call him up and say, “John, what’s going on here?”
Jurich: No, I don’t know – never talked to him about it.
Doug Proffitt: Well that was a shot right at you.
Jurich: There’s been a lot of shots at me, let’s face it – but that’s part of the deal. I’ve got to take them.
In early September, still on the job, Jurich wrote a pointed letter to U of L's general counsel and copied Greg Postel.
Doug Proffitt: You're taking a shot at him.
Jurich: I'm not taking a shot at him. It was very disappointing. Everybody around the country is celebrating it and I thought maybe our university could too and it was just a handful of people who didn't.
After replacing Jurich, Postel said he didn't want anything to do with Adidas if the deal was tainted by the FBI investigation. After a review, acting athletic director Vince Tyra cleared Jurich's work, saying he saw nothing negative with it.
Jurich: Their own attorneys wrote the deal, who are housed in that office.
Doug Proffitt: Was Postel involved in it? Maybe that's why he's saying he knew nothing?
Jurich: Certainly he would be very aware of it?
Doug Proffitt: Why are they saying that as one of the reasons they fired you?
Jurich: I think they are saying a lot of things.
The letter of dismissal says when U of L looked for written evaluations of coaches, they found not one for well over 10 years.
Jurich: I evaluate my coaches 24/7, 365 days a year.
Doug Proffitt: You did it verbally?
Jurich: I do it anytime I need to. My coaches know that I had a handle with them and they knew they could come to me for support.
Doug Proffitt: So written evaluations weren't done?
Jurich: No, I didn't do written evaluations. Never in my 32 years as an AD. I’ve never done them.
Doug Proffitt: Did you think it was necessary to have a trail of things?
Jurich: Why do you need a trail? You only need a trail if you are trying to get rid of people. I hire people so they’ll be successful. I try to prop them up. I want them to come in and enjoy their jobs and have the same passion that I have. To me, the evaluation is when you hire somebody -- that's when you evaluate somebody.
Criticism of nepotism arose as Jurich’s son Mark got a job in the athletic department and his daughter recently landed a full-time position with Adidas.
Jurich: He came and was paid out of the president’s office, not allowed to be supervised by me – that’s the only nepotism law there was.
Doug Proffitt: You didn’t say “Jim, my son would be great of this job?”
Jurich: No, he was entry level. He grew into the role and does a spectacular job and nobody is tougher on any employee than I am on my son.
At age 61, he's been paid a total of nearly $20 million over the past 7 years. He was four years away from collecting a 3-million-dollar incentive if he were still on the job at age 65. He's now fighting for a contract that would have run until 2026. A contract with bonuses and many expenses paid.Doug Proffitt: U of L says you got richer by cutting side deals with Jim Ramsey and then kept those deals secret, your pay, your country club memberships, U of L pays your taxes, people in town were saying nobody pays my taxes. At what point did you feel you feel you were overpaid?
Jurich: I never did. I felt I was earning every penny. I was trying to bring in all kind of extra revenue for the university. I always tried to be a bargain for the university. I would hope that people would think that.
Doug Proffitt: Let's go back to the beginning of trouble. Should Jim Ramsey be in jail?
Doug Proffitt: Why?Jurich: I don't know of anything he did wrong. He was an effective leader, he didn't micromanage us. He let us do our jobs.
Doug Proffitt: You are not fighting to get your job back?
Jurich: Nope. You don't want to be somewhere you are not wanted. If the president doesn't want you there, it's not a real comfortable place to be so we'll move on and remember all the good thoughts and go forward.
Jurich says he won't leave Louisville and will keep it as his home base. And the one thing that has surprised him the most since being let go?
Doug Proffitt: You say UK fans have been coming up to you.
Doug Proffitt: What are they saying to you?Jurich: Wonderful job, great career -- nice things.
Doug Proffitt: Not glad you're leaving?Jurich: I've heard that too, in a very complimentary way they've said that.
Jurich still proudly wears his Cardinal gear. His contract gave him football and basketball tickets for life. It's all now in dispute with possibly millions more on the line for U of L.
Jurich: It's uhhh -- I love the Cardinals. You can't do this for 20 years with these coaches and kids and just throw it all away, I'm not going to do that. It means too much to me.