The University of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Hall

University of Louisville interim president Greg Postel told trustees on Wednesday that he will apply increased attention and oversight to the UofL Athletic Association in the coming months, though he maintained he was not aware of any dire “fix” needed within the athletics department, as trustee and Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter declared two weeks ago.

This was the first UofL board of trustees meeting since Schnatter stated that leadership within the athletics department was “invisible” to university leadership, and he was scared that “until you fix athletics, you cannot fix this university.” Schnatter has faced a heap of criticism since that time for declining to provide specifics about what scared him so, and once again refrained from doing so when he sidestepped reporters after the meeting.

Postel told trustees he has worked hard to tackle the many pressing challenges of the university since taking over the interim position in January, and in the coming months part of that focus will move to athletics, citing NCAA bylaws that university presidents be involved in the oversight of such departments. He noted that the Athletic Association’s board meets several times in the coming months and he will have at least 11 vacancies to fill on that board and its committees, and the board meeting on Thursday would address control of its finances and transactions.

At that athletics board meeting, which Postel chairs by virtue of his position, he said they will “be presenting some resolutions for consideration — one of which will be reminiscent of a resolution we passed here at the board of trustees — related to financial control and oversight, and limitations on transaction authority and things that have to be brought to the board’s attention prior to being authorized. It’s just a good business practice and no different from what has been asked of me by this board and the policy that we follow today.”

Postel also noted that he recently met with the athletic department’s auditors at Crowe Horwath to go over its finances and prepare for its annual audit, as the board will go through the Athletic Association budget “line item by line item to understand it.” He also said the athletics board will examine the many construction projects related to athletics, singling out the expansion of Papa John’s Stadium, which “bears the name of one of the university’s most generous donors, John Schnatter.”

Though Schnatter in the last trustees meeting claimed that this expansion project at the football stadium was over budget, Postel again emphasized that “at this point, this project is on budget and on time… As of today we’re in good shape and we intend to keep it that way so that this remains a budget-neutral activity.” Postel added that he asked UofL Athletic Director Tom Jurich to attend future trustees meetings, to which Jurich gave “an enthusiastic ‘yes.'”

Schnatter did not ask any questions or make any comments after Postel made his remarks, and the meeting adjourned. Though reporters waited outside the room in Grawemeyer Hall to ask him questions, Schnatter did not break stride when walking past them, even as some followed him to shout out questions.

Asked if Postel’s remarks were the “fix” he wanted, Schnatter only replied “I’m happy.” Asked if he wanted to elaborate on his comments from the last meeting, Schatter said “It looks like (board of trustees chairman David) Grissom is going to take care of that,” before he walked out of the building.

Fielding questions from reporters after the meeting, Postel said he had confidence in Jurich and that his comments on the athletics department were not at all prompted by Schnatter’s earlier remarks, as he was already planning to give it scrutiny after tackling other important issues in his first two months in office.

“Chairman Grissom and the rest of this board have asked me to study all aspects of how the university does its business, and athletics is a very important part of that,” said Postel. “We’ve had a lot of issues with health care, accreditation, the budget and that sort of thing, so I had to jump on those in February and March… And now I’ve started working on athletics, and there’s really nothing more to it than that.”

Asked if he has figured out what Schnatter wants “fixed,” Postel says he has not, nor has he had a conversation with him about those comments.

“I don’t know what needs to be ‘fixed,'” said Postel. “It just needs to be studied and have oversight, just like every other area of the university. It’s no different.”

Postel added that he is “absolutely not” scared by anything looming within the athletics department, as they have open meetings and their finances are public.

“I don’t know what there is to be scared about,” said Postel. “The numbers are what they are.”

The UofL Athletic Association board meets at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning; Schnatter also is a member of that board.

Joe Sonka is a staff writer at Insider Louisville focusing on government, politics, education and public safety. He is a former news editor and staff writer at LEO Weekly and has also freelanced for The Nation and ThinkProgress. He has won first place awards from the Louisville Metro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the categories of Health Reporting, Enterprise Reporting, Government/Politics, Minority/Women’s Affairs Reporting, Continuing Coverage and Best Blog. Email him at [email protected]


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