Lawyer: Tom Jurich updated Louisville administration on Adidas negotiations

Danielle Lerner
Courier Journal
UofL Athletic Director Tom Jurich arrives at Grawemeyer Hall to have a meeting with interim president Greg Postel.  Jurich left the building less than 10 minutes later.
September 27, 2017

The attorney for suspended Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich disputed in a 42-page letter made public Monday a claim the university was left in the dark about the recently negotiated contract extension with Adidas.

Dated Oct. 11, the letter argues for Jurich's reinstatement and praises his "strong leadership."

Attorney Alison Stemler sent the letter asking the board of trustees to consider Jurich's case before they discuss his employment status at a Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday

"If the Board wishes for Tom to return to his position, productive working relationships and guidelines with the Board of Trustees, President Postel and other administrators can be developed," the letter says. 

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In an Oct. 2 letter officially placing Jurich on leave, Postel said Jurich's negotiation of the $160 million contract extension with Adidas was conducted “without timely or appropriate consultation with me or members of U of L Athletic Association Board."

But Stemler wrote that Jurich discussed the Adidas contract with Postel twice in April and said Postel's staff and university attorneys were later involved with negotiation and "documenting the terms" of the agreement. 

Jurich began discussing a new Adidas deal in November of last year with former acting President Neville Pinto, the letter says. Jurich talked about the 10-year deal with Postel in April, once in person and once via phone, according to the letter.

The letter also includes a Sept. 1 memo sent from Jurich to university internal counsel Leslie Strohm in which Jurich said he was "befuddled" that Strohm and other university administrators were not aware of the Adidas deal before he announced it Aug. 24. 

Jurich was never told the Adidas contract had to be approved by Postel or the University of Louisville Athletic Association, the letter says. 

Stemler questioned scrutiny of what she called a "fantastic" deal for the university, writing, "We understand that Adidas will let Louisville out of the contract if it wishes, so we're not sure why there is a concern about the new terms."

An Adidas spokeswoman did not immediately respond to emails Monday seeking comment. 

Stemler wrote that "the Adidas relationship needs study in light of the recent events," but she argued in favor of the partnership as a way to fund projects including the Papa John's Cardinal Stadium expansion.

Stemler's letter also argues that Jurich's compensation as athletic director is well-deserved and cites support for Jurich from Louisville head coaches and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. 

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Jurich and former Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino – who was fired Monday – were suspended after the school was implicated in an FBI-investigated "pay to play" recruiting scandal.

One section of bolded text in Stemler's letter to the board of trustees reads, "There are no allegations of wrongdoing in other sports. There are no allegations that Tom was involved in any way or that Tom had any knowledge of NCAA compliance incidents." 

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. 

Sports enterprise reporter Danielle Lerner can be reached at or 502-582-4042.