UofL's Tyra discusses new role, scandals surrounding school

Louisville Interim Athletic Director Vince Tyra talks with WHAS11's Kent Spencer about his new role and moving forward from the recent scandals that have rocked the university.

Now to the former Wildcat who is all decked out in red these days, Vince Tyra--the interim Athletics Director at the University of Louisville. None

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Vince Tyra has always been second fiddle in his family at the University of Louisville. 

His dad Charlie was the school’s first All-American basketball player and has a banner hanging in the rafters.

Kent Spencer: When did you realize that your dad was kind of a big deal?

Vince Tyra: My brother Terry did an art project at St. X when he was in HS... Dad was the cover boy for the first street and Smith basketball magazine and Terry took that and put it into an art project and hung it on the wall. Dad was incredibly humble and just didn't have things hanging around. It was really at that point I started digging around the basement because I was the fourth of 5 kids. I saw All-Star jerseys, Knights jerseys – that’s when I realized he's a big shot."

Kent Spencer: What takes his son to the University of Kentucky to play baseball?

Vince Tyra: We didn't have much of a program back then and certainly didn't have the scholarships to offer at the University of Louisville – because I was the top player in the state at that time, there were pretty significant offers to go to other schools – where my scholarship offers headed up to full rides at other schools. So I was looking to play in the SEC at that time. Mom and dad were like we're not going to go to Gainesville or Oxford to watch you play, let’s just go down the street [to] play at Kentucky. He said I'll deal with all the grief of you playing down there. As it turned out, I took all the grief. He took very little to this day.

With the rivalry set to resume on Saturday, one wonders how the dynamic works between an alma mater and the school he grew up and continues to support.

Vince Tyra: I enjoyed my time there, but it's still quarantined to that time that I spent my four years there but I never lost my passion for being a Louisville fan – while I was there, while they played each other and I think again on Saturday the same thing. – I want Louisville to kick their butt.

He’s no longer just a fan, Vince Tyra is leading Louisville Athletics.

He said his son probably described it best – it’s surreal. 

On the job, Tyra says he’s got a really good relationship with Interim President Dr. Greg Postel.

Vince Tyra: We talk almost every day – that seems unusual to people. You’ve got to remember the things that he’s accomplished to help the University get back on its feet too – should be applauded.

For Tyra and his family, it’s important for Louisville Athletics to be both clean and successful. 

Vince Tyra: I think the student-athletes and coaches are crystal clear on my expectations about their work effort and the conduct they have.

Inheriting scandals

Vince Tyra talks about the current scandals involving UofL and moving forward

When Vince Tyra became interim athletics director, he inherited several scandals surrounding the men's basketball program.

It was the sex scandal that rocked the program in August 2015. It’s a case that’s now in the appeals process with the NCAA leaving the 2013 national title at stake. 

Kent Spencer: How quickly do you guys think you'll have some finality from all of this?

Vince Tyra:  We'll be in Atlanta on December 12th or 13th with our appeal. Dr. Postel and I will be down there with our counsel presenting our appeal. I've reviewed the case, reviewed our appeal, [and I] feel well prepared – obviously not happy – [I] want to come back with that banner.

There’s also the latest FBI pay for play scandal within the sport where it's alleged Louisville coaches were involved in the arrangement to pay the family of freshman Brian Bowen $100,000 through a representative of Adidas.

Louisville's Vince Tyra may have interim in his new job title as athletics director but he's certainly dealing with some major issues in the athletics department.

Kent Spencer: Where does Brian Bowen sit with you guys currently?

Vince Tyra: He's still sitting on the sidelines. Everybody knows he's not involved in the team aspect of what's going on. We've been working as fast as we've been allowed to – as fast as we can. Internal investigations has to get to the point where we can make a decision with Brian. We are first obviously and Brian second."

Tyra was asked if he thinks assistant coach Kenny Johnson, who was placed on administrative leave in the wake of the FBI probe, would ever coach at Louisville again?

Vince Tyra: I don't really know enough to say that. I think it's something. Believe me, even today working through as many facts as I can find in our investigation and hope to come to the decision in short order."

Several weeks ago, Tyra created a buzz when he was seen courtside at a basketball game with Papa John’s CEO, John Schnatter.

Vince Tyra: My relationship with John is great as it is with most of our donors. I've got a great working relationship, I've done business with a lot of the leaders in the city [and] we need them all. We need to unify this effort. I don't like having this division."

Then you have perhaps the biggest unknown of all.

Kent Spencer: Do you want the job full time?

Vince Tyra: It's a question I'm trying to answer with others more than myself. I don't think it's fair to the coaches or our fan base to just jump in here. It's not something I ever intended to do. If there's value to be added here, I can help the community help this university, athletic program [and] then we should have that discussion. I'm in no hurry to hold anybody up. If there's another player that can do the job, we should look at that too.
 

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