In a scathing letter of termination, Louisville interim president Gregory Postel wrote that since-fired athletic director Tom Jurich’s “willful misconduct” was the reason Louisville gave him the boot last week, claiming that in addition to setting up the university’s Adidas deal in the shadows, Jurich went about his duties as AD in a manner that could “best characterized as intimidation and bullying.”
The Oct. 20 letter was meant to be an explanation from Louisville as to exactly why Jurich would be fired with cause and not allowed to collect the remaining money on his contract. Jurich was axed on Oct. 18, after the Louisville board of trustees voted 10-3 to fire him with cause. While the reason for Jurich’s firing was clear—Louisville’s partnership with Adidas to pay incoming men’s basketball recruits—the board didn’t elaborate on what Jurich exactly violated in his contract. Through a public records request for Postel’s letter, WDRB helped fill in the blanks.
In his two-page letter, Postel wrote that despite promoting a message of NCAA compliance, Jurich’s responses “have deliberately refused or been slow to take any meaningful disciplinary or enforcement action.” Postel denounced Jurich for “ineffective management, divisive leadership, unprofessional conduct,” before calling him a bully who attempted to manipulate everyone he worked with. The letter is rife with the university and lawyer jargon typically found in termination letters, but the specific claims of bullying and the characterization of Jurich’s blatant disregard for NCAA rules is as close to Fuck you, we’re not paying you as can be in a college setting.
Any remnants of a bridge that had escaped untouched after the board’s vote have been torched to hell when Postel’s letter went public, and that opened up Jurich and his lawyers to come full throttle at the university.
Jurich’s attorneys at Frost Brown Todd released a letter of their own, calling all claims of the former AD actively or passively encouraging Louisville coaches to subvert NCAA rules “untrue,” adding that, “it is unfortunate that President Postel and Board (of Trustees) Chair (David) Grissom have chosen to attempt a character assassination of a man who has done so much for Louisville.” Responding to a claim by Postel that Jurich never issued “a single performance assessment or disciplinary memorandum” to any coaches, Jurich’s lawyers wrote that he would look over weekly reviews from associate athletic directors in addition to an annual review with a school board on athletics.
Terry Meiner of WHAS spoke with Jurich after the letter was released and gave an interview on the conversation, saying that the former Louisville AD was “completely stunned” and confused by Postel’s bullying remarks, claiming that he’s continued to receive positive feedback from current Cardinals coaches even after his official firing.
A great deal of Jurich’s response is just about not leaving a load of money on the table; the less obvious facet of this case comes from Jurich’s perceived feeling of betrayal. In addition to both getting the boot after 20 years at the helm and Postel’s letter, Meiner said that Jurich told him there was some “last-minute wrangling” from the board on the day of the vote, with one “high-ranking person” allegedly lying to Jurich and telling him “there’s only one person voting against you” in an attempt to extract more information.
Like Rick Pitino’s doing with both Adidas and Louisville, Jurich is coming for his money—the Frost Brown Todd letter stated their intentions to “vigorously defend his rights under his long-standing contract with the University of Louisville.” But since he ran the show for 20 years, Jurich’s got plenty of buried body locations in his back pocket; putting him on the same side as Pitino is probably the right legal move from Louisville, but it also puts Jurich, a rich-as-hell 61-year-old, in the position to use every weapon at his disposal to get what he feels he’s due. Unless the NCAA show-causes him, there’s nothing stopping another school picking him up once he settles or takes Louisville to court, which will in all likelihood happen given college sports is an industry like any other.
Jurich’s legal team has a press conference scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss his plans moving forward, which will, in all likelihood, include plans for a lawsuit for wrongful termination and maybe even some emotional distress, if we’re lucky—Meiner added only that his lawyers would be releasing “more information” this afternoon.
In the meantime, Louisville will shell out $100,000 per month to interim athletic director Vince Tyra—the overall annual payment of $1.2 million is just a shade under the $1.3 million Jurich was set to bring in this year.