Tom Jurich's lawyer fights back, says University of Louisville official worked on Adidas deal
Suspended University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich is fighting back.
Citing “disturbing and unprecedented” allegations in the FBI’s pay for play case, interim University of Louisville President Greg Postel placed Jurich on leave Monday.
Postel also cited a new grievance against Jurich — that he negotiated the recent $160 million contract extension with Adidas without “appropriate consultation with me” or the U of L Athletic Association board.
But in a letter his lawyer made public late Monday, she said Postel’s allegations about Jurich doing the deal in the dark are “simply not true.”
Attorney Alison Stemler said Jurich worked on the Adidas contract extension with several university officials, including two attorneys and Postel’s chief of staff, who in different combinations assisted him in 11 meetings.
And Stemler said Jurich “had no knowledge of, and would not have tolerated, the alleged criminal conduct.”
“The extraordinary and unprecedented alleged wrongful behavior was kept from Tom precisely because everyone in the Athletics Department knows that Tom will not tolerate any violation of law or NCAA rules,” she said in a three-page letter addressed to Postel.
“While you may feel it necessary to start over with an entirely new athletics management staff, the lack of respect being shown for Tom and his hard work for the University over all these years is regrettable,” the letter says.
The letter came as several powerful boosters and coaches on Jurich’s staff have launched a bid to save his job.
In tweets, swim coach Arther Albiero and softball coach Sandy Pearsall said they had just left a meeting of coaches and they were unanimous in their support for Jurich.
Women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz tweeted: “In tough times u need a strong foundation to lean on. I'm gr8ful Tom Jurich has given us the ability to build such a strong foundation.”
Stemler said Jurich "has not, and has not been alleged to have, engaged in any knowing or intentional conduct that could give rise to a termination for cause."
But if the university tries to fire him on that basis, she said his contract requires that he be given 30 days to correct any conduct, and she said it is impossible for him to do that because Postel has placed him on administrative leave.
“As Tom has stated publicly,” Stemler says, he “remains committed to helping the university overcome the challenges it faces and to working cooperatively with the university. However, the University will need to act immediately to restore Tom to his position of athletic director and begin working collaboratively with Tom rather than in an adversarial manner.”
Jurich, 61, has been athletic director at Louisville for nearly 20 years. He has overseen a long period of growth in the department and steered it through several scandals, including allegations that prostitutes were hired to entertain recruits and players on the men's basketball team.
Jurich’s taxable income in 2016 was $5.3 million, according to the forensic audit of the U of L Foundation released in June. Auditors determined he was paid $19,379,710 from 2010 to 2016, or an average of $2.76 million a year. That includes performance and retention bonuses and other deferred payments, as well as $30,000 per year just to cover his personal financial advisers.
That does not include the value of perks, including memberships in three country clubs and Kentucky Derby and Oaks tickets.
Before coming to Louisville, Jurich was the athletic director at Colorado State and Northern Arizona, his alma mater. As a player at Northern Arizona, Jurich was an All-American kicker and Big Sky offensive player of the year in 1977. He became a 10th-round NFL draft pick and played for the Minnesota Vikings.
Reporter Andrew Wolfson can be reached at 502-582-7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.