Vince Tyra was introduced as the UofL’s new interim athletics director at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. | Photo by Joe Sonka

University of Louisville interim president Greg Postel announced the hiring of Vince Tyra as the school’s new interim athletics director at yet another packed press conference Tuesday afternoon. He steps in to replace longtime athletics director Tom Jurich, who was placed on paid administrative leave last week following news of the latest bombshell scandal involving the men’s basketball program.

Tyra has been an operating partner for Southfield Capital for the past decade, and recently became an adviser to ISCO Industries after previously serving as its president. In February of this year, he was named to the board of directors of the UofL Foundation, as the nonprofit managing the university’s endowment continued to implement significant governance reforms in the wake of the previous administration of former President James Ramsey. Tyra says he will now resign from his position on the foundation board.

Vince Tyra (left) and Greg Postel (right) | Photo by Joe Sonka

Postel said he had given much thought to who should step in for Jurich over the past difficult week, but felt that Tyra would be “an exceptional leader who will provide stability to our athletics department. His success in business, his athletic background and his close ties to the university and the athletics department will be important to the continuing success of our program.”

The son of UofL basketball star Charlie Tyra, Tyra grew up in Louisville and graduated from Trinity, before playing baseball at the University of Kentucky.

Tyra opened by saying it had been a sad and disappointing week for UofL basketball and athletics fans, and that: “I’m a fan, just like you are. I’m passionate about the University of Louisville, I’m passionate about sports. I’ve been fortunate to be around them my entire life through my family’s legacy here, grew up a Cardinals fan and raised my kids to be Cardinals fans.”

Noting that he is a good friend of Jurich, Tyra said that his positive legacy of 20 years as athletics director “is all around us,” and he expected UofL’s fan base to step up and continue to support their athletics programs in these challenging times.

“While this is a difficult process, what we’re going through here, it’s a time for our fan base, frankly, to dig in deeper,” said Tyra. “To be more supportive in any way they can, not just for the basketball program, but of all the other 20 sports… One of them may have a little bit of a flat tire today, but we’re going to pump it back up. It’s something we’ll deal with.”

Tyra said that it was an honor to be selected as interim athletics director, and that he is “all in” on the job, hoping for this period of time that “my skills and leadership can be leveraged to create some stability and growth, and build upon what we have here.”

Tyra choked back tears as he recounted that Gov. Matt Bevin once said that he ran for office because he had been fortunate enough to take a finite time of his life out to do something for the better good, adding “this is my chance.”

Asked about the status of assistant basketball coaches Jordan Fair and Kenny Johnson — rumored to be mentioned in the federal indictments as involved in the alleged scheme to bribe recruits — Tyra said he did not know any details about the investigation beyond what has been made public, and he would soon discuss the matter with new interim head coach David Padgett.

Asked if there was “systemic corruption” in the basketball program, Tyra said those “are pretty strong words, I wouldn’t say there’s systemic corruption here at the university or in the athletics department.” He added that “if there’s something that needs to be fixed here, I’ll be happy to jump in and fix it. But I don’t have enough knowledge today to give that a good answer.”

Tyra said that Jurich had been an “incredible steward of the athletic programs for a long time,” and he hoped “to carry on what Tom’s created, and underneath him what the athletic department and these coaches have done. It’s spectacular, it really is an elite program.”

As for whether Jurich should eventually return to his job, Tyra said that question is not up to him.

Following the press conference, Tyra and Postel left to attend a meeting with every coach of each team in UofL’s athletics department. On Monday, nearly all of the coaches held a meeting in which they expressed unanimous support for Jurich, with several publicly expressing hope that he would return to his position.

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Joe Sonka
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]