If there’s one benefit to working in a leadership position at a major college sports program, and there are many, it’s that even if you end up disgraced and fired, you’re probably going to stay rich as hell.
Tom Jurich, the former athletic director at Louisville, finally settled with the university on Friday, bringing the seven-month legal tussle to an end. The basics of Jurich’s settlement are as follows, per the settlement:
Jurich will receive a one-time payment of $4.5 million in the next 10 days; additionally, he will be paid $2.67 million in deferred compensation and annuity payments. Jurich and his wife will both keep their school-funded insurance plan until they qualify for Medicare. He will also be allotted club seats at Louisville football and men’s basketball home games for the next 20 years. The school will also update his personnel file to read that his time ended at Louisville “without cause.”
After the FBI announced its investigation into college basketball recruiting, the spotlight focused in on Louisville, as the Cardinals and their athletic apparel sponsor, Adidas, were among the groups singled out for paying high school recruits to play for Louisville. Jurich was pushed out in October, two days after Rick Pitino got the boot. Both men denied having any prior knowledge of the payments, and Jurich was quick to contend interim president Greg Postel’s claim that he negotiated Louisville’s $160 million contract with Adidas without properly notifying his superiors. Postel also savaged Jurich, in university president terms, writing in an Oct. 20 letter that his “willful misconduct” led to the school being embroiled in multiple scandals, while his managing style could “best characterized as intimidation and bullying.”
Jurich was first put on administrative leave then was fired with cause following a 10-3 vote by the Louisville board of trustees, which at the time included American hero Papa John.
After being shown the door, Jurich had a long list of current Louisville employees and donors supporting his reinstatement by the board, claiming that he should not be held accountable for a single team’s mistakes. But rather than sue the school right away, as Pitino did, Jurich bided his time, using the fear of another drawn out legal case to bring Louisville to the table. Once there, the two sides went back and forth over the terms. The settlement document shows that Jurich’s leverage was the wrongful termination lawsuit he was keeping in his back pocket if negotiations fell through.
Jurich was at Louisville for 20 years and he basically helped build the Cardinals into a football and men’s basketball powerhouse. The athletic department as a financial operation, though, was hardly in healthy shape, as it paid out millions to its administrators and coaches. Louisville athletics posted a $9 million deficit between the 2015 and 2016 seasons; meanwhile, Jurich took home $5.3 million in taxable income in 2016, more than double what the second-highest paid AD in the nation was making.
Now, as long as he runs his household more efficiently than he ran the athletic department, Jurich can spend the rest of his life kicking his feet up and watching Louisville games from the club seats with his buds, all thanks to top-level ineptitude and the generous taxpayers of Kentucky.