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Billy Reed: What a train wreck at UofLouisville, having a need for a new president and a new AD

Somewhere Tom Jurich is. . .well, to tell the truth, I can’t even guess what he’s thinking about the train wreck at the University of Louisville.

Billy Reed is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame and the Transylvania University Hall of Fame. He has been named Kentucky Sports Writer of the Year eight times and has won the Eclipse Award twice. Reed has written about a multitude of sports events for over four decades and is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable writers on the Kentucky Derby. His book “Last of a BReed” is available on Amazon.

Tom is neither a mean or vindictive person. But he also has a fierce pride in all the amazing work he did there. He was, by any standard, the best athletics director in Division I.

He was able to hire Rick Pitino as his basketball coach, which was considered amazing at the time. The result was the 2013 national championship. But then the feckless NCAA came up with a gambling scandal and UofL fired them both instead of doing the right thing, which was vigorously defend them.

Whatever else you might want to say about them, they are not cheaters. Neither would ever be part of any sordid gambling scheme. I’d bet my last dollar on that.

Nobody could adequately fill Tom’s shoes, least of all Vince Tyra. I dislike criticizing Vince because his parents have been longtime friends. His dad, The late Charlie Tyra, was an All-American at U of L in the 1950s. He also was one of the sweetest guys you would ever want to meet.

Vince probably cashed in a lot of chips to get the A.D.’s job. But he was a bad fit from day one. His coaching hires in football and men’s basketball are mediocre at best. You could feel the air deflating the UofL balloon.

When Vince finally left, UofL tried to put a good face on it. The story was put out that Florida State was interested in him, but I didn’t believe that for a second. It’s good for UofL that he is gone, even if the timing couldn’t be worse.

The university should live with an acting A.D. until a president is hired. That’s because the president and the A.D. should be compatible. However, a search committee should already be looking for candidates for A.D. so it will have some names to give the new president.

Certainly, it should be a national search because UofL should want to hire the best person available, including a woman. Experience, knowledge, personality, ethics, and intelligence all are vitally important.

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I suggested David Padgett as interim because he’s on the scene, he’s very bright and he has solid UofL roots, having played on the 2013 championship team. If a national search turns up somebody better, fine. But if it doesn’t, Padgett deserves serious consideration.

I also wonder if Jurich might be interested in coming back and rebuilding the athletics department he made superior. That’s a long shot, I’m sure, but you never know until you ask.

This is a major crossroads for UofL, and there’s a lot of pressure on the search committees. They must find the right person to succeed ex-president Nina Benaputti, who bolted for Penn State, and the new president must find the next Tom Jurich.

Not so long ago, it was impossible to imagine UofL in such a mess. Some of it, such as firing Jurich, is of the university’s own making. But now is not the time to live in the past, pointing fingers of blame. Now is time for the UofL community to close ranks and find new leaders who have the courage to do the right thing.

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  1. gerald a duffer says:

    I have been a fan of Mr. Reed’s writing for many years. I have collected most of his books, but not sure of the complete list. If possible, could I have a complete listing of his books in case there are any I am unfamiliar with. thank you very much.

  2. Gerald says:

    If you want to fill The Yum Center again hire back Petino and Jurich. Then I might buy season tickets again since I stopped when you let them go and used them as scapegoats. SAD! MANY OTHER FANS FEEL THE SAME WAY. I BOUGHT SEASON TICKETS FOR OVER 30 YEARS. BRING THEM BACK AT ALL COST!!!!!

  3. Joey T. says:

    RIP Billy. I really enjoyed your articles everywhere you wrote them. Say hi to my mom for me and tell her I am sorry I didn’t get to say goodbye.

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