Friday, August 09, 2002

New contract will keep Jurich at U of L through 2016



By CHRIS DUNCAN
AP Sports Writer

        LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Tom Jurich will remain the University of Louisville athletics director until he retires.

        The 46-year-old Jurich signed a four-year contract extension Thursday that will keep him at the school through 2016.

        “It's a lifetime contract,” Jurich said after a 30-minute meeting of the school's Athletics Association board of directors.

        Jurich was hired in October 1997 and signed a 13-year contract in March 1999. He's made sweeping changes, none bigger than hiring Rick Pitino in March 2001 to revitalize the sagging basketball program.

        Still, many speculated Jurich would follow former University of Louisville president and close friend John Shumaker to the University of Tennessee, a Southeastern Conference football power that draws millions each year from television deals. Shumaker, who hired Jurich, was named Tennessee's president in March.

        Jurich said he was never going anywhere.

        “This is the best job in the country for Tom Jurich,” said Jurich, whose two sons, Mark and Brian, attend U of L. “You get feelers all the time, but this is just the place where I want to settle down. I don't want to be a jumper.

        “I don't think there's a bigger or better place than Louisville.”

        The new contract keeps Jurich's base salary at $226,018. It also keeps a list of incentives, including a $15,000 bonus for any bowl appearances by the football team and a $36,000 bonus for any year the six-year graduation rate among student-athletes is higher than 50 percent.

        It adds a clause that states the association will fund an annuity Jurich can collect if he stays until 2005. He'll receive similar bonuses if he stays through 2009, 2012 and 2015.

        The board approved the incentive structure in January and recommended that Shumaker begin negotiating an extension for Jurich.

        “Tom is a highly competent, energetic leader,” said former U of L basketball star Junior Bridgeman, now a member of the school's board of trustees. “It was in our best interest to lock up his talent for as long as possible.”

        In addition to his aggressive pursuit of Pitino, Jurich also hired John L. Smith, who's turned the Cardinals into a perennial winner. Jurich has also overseen a boost in the academic standing of Louisville's athletes and brought the school into Title IX compliance.

        The moves have come at a price — the school had a $3.2 million deficit in 2000-01 and Jurich expects a deficit of about $1 million this year. The debt stems primarily from the construction of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and Cardinal Park, a collection of facilities that was a key to the school achieving gender equity.

        “We took on a lot of debt, but it was 'cautious debt.' We knew what we were doing. Like any investment, it takes a while to pay off,” Jurich said. “We've got enormous facilities, but you need facilities to attract great student-athletes. We've got to pay for those, but we have a great plan in place.

        “My goal is making Louisville the very best in every sport,” he said. “We're building this into a program that's going to be nationally acclaimed. I love playing things out the right way. That's what we're doing.”

       



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