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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
Tom Jurich was fired with cause as the University of Louisville's athletics director on Wednesday after a vote by the school's trustees.
The board of trustees voted 10-3 in favor of letting go of Jurich, who had been in his position for nearly two decades.
The meeting in the Jefferson Room at Grawemeyer Hall was in closed, executive session for roughly three hours before the board made its vote just after 4:30 p.m.
"On behalf of the board of trustees, we thank those who have taken the time to write us in the past weeks," interim Louisville President Greg Postel said in a prepared statement. "Your passion and support for the University of Louisville will ensure that our best days are ahead of us. To our students, faculty, staff and Cards fans, this is our opportunity to demonstrate the unity and integrity that define being a Louisville Cardinal."
Then, Postel added, "When I walk around campus I'm always inspired when I see a student wearing one of our T-shirts that reads, 'Rise to the Occasion.' Right now, we need to challenge ourselves to do just that."
None of the trustees spoke when offered the chance in the meeting, and none answered questions from reporters. Papa John's founder John Schnatter, a trustee who has had tensions with Jurich in the past, said as he left the meeting that he would not comment on his vote to fire Jurich.
Trustees Brian Cromer, Diane Medley and Ronald Wright voted against the motion. They expressed their support for Jurich prior to the tally.
"I think (Jurich) is owed some thanks for those things that he's done," Wright said. "... I hope that we can somehow relay that to Mr. Jurich, some thanks for the service that he has provided to this community."
Interim university President Greg Postel declined comment after the meeting, saying it was a "legal matter." In his brief prepared statement, Postel thanked Jurich for "his years of service and many contributions to the university."
But he sought to assure Louisville's fan base that Jurich's firing doesn't represent a de-emphasis of athletics, a statement interim athletics director Vince Tyra seconded.
"Athletics will not take a backseat," Postel said. "We're bullish on athletics."
The Frost, Brown and Todd legal team representing Jurich, headed by Ed Glasscock and Alison Stemler, made a brief presentation to the board but declined to speak with reporters following the meeting.
In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, Jurich's lawyers said he instructed them to "vigorously defend his rights and reputation under his long-standing contract with the University of Louisville."
"We are disheartened by the actions taken by the University of Louisville Board of Trustees this afternoon against athletics director Tom Jurich," his legal team said in a statement sent late Wednesday afternoon. "We believe that their vote to terminate his contract was done in haste with inaccurate information that should have had no bearing on continuing his employment."
The decision comes two days after the university terminated the contract of head men's basketball coach Rick Pitino and three weeks after interim university President Greg Postel placed Jurich on paid administrative leave.
Jurich is the third Louisville athletics employee to lose his job in the wake of news that an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting includes the university's program.
Louisville parted ways with Jordan Fair, one of Pitino's assistant coaches, last week. Associate head coach Kenny Johnson remains on paid administrative leave.
The decision Wednesday was made after weeks of private and public jostling in the university community.
In a letter explaining Jurich's suspension earlier in October, Postel wrote that the FBI investigation was "disturbing and unprecedented." He said the federal complaint detailing the FBI's case insinuates "a scheme of fraud and malfeasance in the recruitment of student-athletes involving multiple members of your men's basketball coaching staff."
Postel also told Jurich his contract extension negotiations with Adidas, Louisville's apparel sponsor, were "conducted without timely or appropriate consultation" with the president's office or the University of Louisville Athletic Association. Jurich, through his lawyers, vehemently denied Postel's claims.
Over the past few weeks, several key athletics boosters, including Jim Patterson and Mark Lynn, wrote letters to Postel and the school's trustees, urging them to keep Jurich on staff.
Fifteen of Louisville's head coaches signed a letter of support for Jurich that was circulated Sunday.
Stemler sent Louisville's Board of Trustees a 42-page letter on Monday detailing why the school should retain him as its athletics director.
Stemler wrote that "parting ways with (Jurich) isn't in the university's best interest, especially now, when strong leadership is needed to be sure donor support remains intact, fans continue to buy tickets and NCAA punitive damage is minimized."
Jurich, 61, came to Louisville in 1997 after stints as the athletic director at Colorado State and Northern Arizona.
He helped guide the school's athletic department through a rapidly changing landscape, moving the Cardinals program from the fledgling Conference USA to the Big East, and then, in 2014, to the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference.
Over Jurich's tenure, Louisville's men's basketball program reached three Final Fours and won the 2013 national championship.
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