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Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)


LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville removed the interim tag from athletic director Vince Tyra's job title on Monday and made him the school's vice president of athletics after weeks of speculation that it would happen by month's end.

Tyra was appointed to the interim role in October after the school suspended and later fired Tom Jurich in the wake of the FBI unsealing its investigation into corruption in college basketball recruiting. He has long been considered the favorite to retain the position.

Tyra will be given a five-year contract worth $850,000 per year in salary. He can also earn up to $150,000 in potential bonuses.

"Over the past six months, he has been in a job where he has had a chance to prove himself and his ability as an athletic director," interim Louisville president Greg Postel said. "He has dealt with challenging staffing issues. He has improved efficiency of the athletics department. And he has tackled the budget during a time of university-wide financial restraint. ... Put simply, he has proven to be a perfect fit for U of L."

The school announced its decision after a series of meetings between the University of Louisville Athletic Association and the Board of Trustees.

The association voted to endorse Tyra after reviewing three candidates recommended by Korn Ferry, a search firm that originally identified 50 people for the job. The trustees unanimously supported the endorsement just after noon.

Tyra, a longtime businessman, was previously on the University of Louisville Foundation's board of directors, serving for eight months before the move to athletics.

The part-owner of Louisville City FC was asked to guide the university's $100-million-budget athletics program out of challenging times.

"I can't tell you how proud and excited I am to be named the director of athletics at the University of Louisville," said Tyra, the son of Louisville basketball great Charlie Tyra. "As I've said before, we were raised as Cardinals. We were U of L fans our whole childhood, my siblings and I. I couldn't be happier to try to lead this process for the university."

Tyra's appointment now empowers him to enter the final stages of the search for a men's basketball coach. Tyra and other school officials wanted to have an athletic director in place before offering a contract to any potential candidates.

No contract offer was made as of Monday afternoon.

Tyra said Monday he hoped to have a new coach hired before the men's Final Four this coming weekend in San Antonio, and that the search was "right on track."

Xavier coach Chris Mack is believed to be the frontrunner for the job.

"Staffing," Tyra said when asked what his first priority would be. "We've got a position you might have heard of, men's basketball coach, that needs to get filled."

Tyra also said he was confident he could negotiate a contract extension for women's basketball coach Jeff Walz after he recently expressed interest in redoing his deal. Walz's Cardinals clinched their third trip to the Final Four in nine years on Sunday.

Beyond those two tasks, the school is trying to right the financial ship after multiple crises over the past few years. The athletics department is working to repair its damaged reputation and recover some of its donation losses.

The FBI scandal came as the NCAA infractions process drew to a close in Louisville's escort case. The NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee upheld the Committee on Infractions' ruling that Louisville must vacate 123 wins, including its 2012 Final Four appearance and 2013 national title, and repay shared NCAA Tournament revenue from 2012-15.

Now the school is waiting to hear more from the NCAA and the FBI. The FBI and U.S. Attorney's office have asked the NCAA's enforcement staff to refrain from conducting its own inquiry into the allegations of recruiting malfeasance until after the trials in the case are over. The last set of trials won't start until April 2019.

But Tyra wanted to focus what he views as positive momentum in the athletics department.

"We're going to continue with all the good we have," Tyra said. "I think we're working hard to remove the not-so-good, and I'm excited to take the lead on that and take us forward into the next step for this university, and move forward on other major decisions."

Tyra said he spent the past six months trying establish relationships with Louisville's athletics staffers and donors as well as coaches and student-athletes.

"We've made a number of improvements in the short term, and we've used the student athlete experience as our guiding principle," Tyra said. "That's shaped a lot of things."

Jeff Greer: 502-582-4044;; Twitter: @jeffgreer_cj.

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March 27, 2018


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