In August, Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich announced an apparel partnership with Adidas that would net the athletic department $160 million over 10 years when it starts on July 1, 2018. It’s no secret that Louisville athletics isn’t in great shape right now, thanks in part to a disastrous stadium deal. The department would be millions in the red if not for massive subsidies from the university. Hell, even Papa John the pizza man was fed up with the direction the program and the state of its finances, and that was before this latest scandal engulfed the school. As Jurich himself said of the Adidas deal, “It’s for the athletic department. It’s for these student-athletes. It’s been earmarked for them.”
One would hope it’s allocated better than the school’s current apparel deal, which as the Courier-Journal reported today, was used almost exclusively to pay Rick Pitino. In fact, 98 percent of the money brought in by the deal went to Pitino, which the contract for new deal attempts to prohibit:
In 2015-16, for example, $1.5 million went to Pitino under his personal services agreement with the apparel company while just $25,000 went to the program, according to a contract obtained by the Courier-Journal under the state public records act.
The year before, Pitino also got $1.5 million, while the department banked just $10,000.
Under the existing and new contracts, any money that Adidas pays to University of Louisville coaches under personal service agreements is deducted from what the company gives to the athletic program.
Earlier this year, a Louisville spokesman made the case that paying Pitino was the same as using the money to help its athletes because Pitino was special enough that his coaching counted as a valuable service:
“Players come here in part because of Coach Pitino. Coaching is part of what we give to student-athletes,” [Louisvile spokesman Kenny] Klein said last month before a bribery scandal prompted the suspensions of Jurich and Pitino.
Pitino is now in the process of being fired, although it’s messier than it perhaps seems. Officially speaking, he’s on administrative leave, just like Jurich. Some very heavy hitters have lined up behind Jurich to try and get him formally reinstated at the university’s board of trustees meeting in two weeks, and at this point, it’s not clear which faction within Louisville athletics will win. The Courier-Journal spoke to many people in the department and responses varied. If he does come back, he’ll return to an unconscionably luxurious position at the helm of the athletic department.
As the Courier-Journal (who has been all over this) also reported today, Jurich makes more than twice as much money per year as the second-highest paid athletic director in the country. His taxable income last year was $5.3 million, which is more than several prominent academic departments at Louisville, such as Biology, English, and Mathematics. Kentucky state records have him making just over $500,000 a year, although a school spokesman told the the Courier-Journal that his actual base pay was now $1.3 million. His total compensation shakes out to quadruple his base pay with the addition of the vesting of a $1.8 million annuity and exorbitant benefits from Louisville. Here’s how Louisville ended up paying him so much, via the Courier-Journal:
- Making some compensation tax-free by “grossing” it up, or essentially paying the taxes for him. This was a $1.6 million benefit to him in 2016.
- Paying Jurich 160 percent of the cost of his life insurance policy, and allowing him to keep the overage. Employer-paid policies are common for athletic directors, but sweetening the deal is not.
- Paying him as much as $30,000 per year to hire financial advisers to help manage his money, as well as paying taxes on that perk.
- Providing $12,000 per year to cover the cost of two vehicles. Coaches and ADs commonly get allowances for one car, but not for two.
- Buying memberships in two high-end private golf clubs — Hurstbourne and Lake Forest, where membership fees are $28,000 and $25,000, respectively. That’s in addition to membership at the university’s own Cardinal Club course. The university also pays Jurich’s annual club dues and covers his required monthly minimum bar and food bills – an $11,260 benefit in 2015, the most recent year available from the athletic department.
- Providing 16 Skye Terrace seats each year for the Kentucky Derby and Oaks. According to the track’s website, eight premium seats would sell for $24,000 per year.
- Guaranteeing eight football and basketball season tickets for life — and not just his life. The seats, valued at about $11,500 per year, are property of the Jurich family for the lifetimes of his wife and children, as well.
Meanwhile, the athletic department ran a deficit of $9 million for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 years, a gap which was bridged by heavy subsidies from the university. Overpaying for leadership seems to be the Louisville way.