Tom Jurich

The University of Louisville on Tuesday released the scathing termination letter that interim president Greg Postel sent recently fired athletics director Tom Jurich last week, accusing Jurich of “significant and habitual dereliction of duties” and demonstrating behavior “best described as intimidation and bullying.”

Shortly after this letter was released, Jurich’s public relations team fired back with a statement of their own, accusing Postel and UofL board of trustees chairman J. David Grissom of attempting “a character assassination of a man who has done so much for Louisville,” while adding that Jurich’s legal team “will vigorously defend his rights under his long-standing contract” with UofL.

Last Wednesday, Jurich was fired by the board of trustees in a 10-3 vote, stemming from the federal bribery scandal that rocked the UofL basketball program in late September. Though the three trustees who voted to keep Jurich defended him in that meeting, none of the members who voted to fire the school’s athletics director of 20 years chose to speak about their reasoning.

However, in his official termination letter to Jurich that was sent last Friday, Postel did not hold back from his criticisms, painting the former athletics director as a bully who did not take proper management and oversight seriously as the department became involved in multiple scandals.

Noting that UofL has been portrayed negatively “as a result of multiple compliance lapses occurring in multiple sports,” Postel wrote that Jurich had “deliberately refused or been slow to take any meaningful disciplinary or enforcement action,” which is “willfully inconsistent” with promoting the university and its “zero tolerance” policy on infractions.

Postel added that Jurich “demonstrated a consistent and willful lack of supervision of head coaches,” writing that the department’s personnel files “do not contain a single performance assessment or disciplinary memorandum issued by you.”

“The effect of your willful refusal to supervise and discipline the individuals who report to you — in the face of nationally publicized transgressions — has been to create a culture of tolerance within University Athletics for behavior that falls far short of NCAA, ACC and University expectations,” wrote Postel.

Noting that the FBI’s investigation has now uncovered wrongdoing within UofL’s men’s basketball program, Postel wrote that Jurich’s “significant and habitual dereliction of duties has caused substantial damage to the Athletic Department and the University as a whole.”

UofL Board of Trustees chair J. David Grissom (left) and interim UofL president Greg Postel (right) | Photo by Joe Sonka

Postel then moved on to describe the behavior of Jurich as unprofessional and lacking “collegiality.”

“During this same time period, your own willful misconduct has also been demonstrated through ineffective management, divisive leadership, unprofessional conduct, and a lack of collegiality best characterized as intimidation and bullying that extends from student government to the University’s senior leadership,” wrote Postel. “This has caused substantial damage to the University.”

Postel also accused Jurich of misconduct by “entering into multiple purported agreement or understandings” with former UofL President James Ramsey, who was forced out of his position last summer.

Postel wrote that Jurich entered such agreements “with the intent of concealing them from campus or public knowledge” and without the board approval of the university or the UofL Athletics Association, which constituted “repeated breaches of your fiduciary duty.”

In conclusion, Postel wrote that these alleged actions of Jurich “cannot be considered isolated events,” but are instead “illustrative of a pattern and practice of willful misconduct resulting in substantial detriment” to UofL, all of which constitutes cause for termination under the terms of his contract.

Responding to this termination letter Tuesday afternoon, a statement released by BoxCar PR on behalf of Jurich took aim at both Postel and Grissom, claiming the “untrue, unproven allegations” leveled against their client amounted to “an attempt to smear the reputation of Tom Jurich.”

“Tom Jurich unequivocally denies all the allegations and implications emanating from those allegations,” read the statement from BoxCar. “The letter of termination is an after-the-fact effort to justify an unwarranted termination ‘for cause’ that the Board of Trustees voted without specifying any charges, at all.”

Responding to the accusations that Jurich did not properly monitor or supervise head coaches, the statement added that “Weekly evaluations were completed in order to supervise each and every coach at the University of Louisville.”

“Associate Athletic Directors along with Tom Jurich were responsible for every head coach’s evaluation,” stated BoxCar. “The Assistant Athletic Directors reported to Tom Jurich directly with these evaluations. These evaluations were discussed every Monday morning in a sports administration meeting. Yearly, Tom Jurich reviewed coach evaluations with the University of Louisville Athletic Association Board. Additionally, coaches enjoyed an open door policy with Tom Jurich. Prior administrations knew of this evaluation process and were 100% supportive.”

The statement added that “there are NO allegations of wrongdoing in a sport other than men’s basketball. There are also no allegations that Tom Jurich was involved in the current investigation or had any knowledge of NCAA compliance issues. The accusation of ‘a culture of tolerance’ of noncompliance is the exact opposite of what Dr. Postel argued himself to the NCAA in April, including in the pending appeal of the penalties in the April NCAA hearing.”

Addressing the accusations made by Postel about agreements Jurich entered into with Ramsey, the statement added that these were “simply untrue.”

“The contracts were clearly subject to the open records act and were, in fact, widely published in local and national news media,” read the statement. “Four years ago, Tom Jurich was promised that his contract would be restated to accurately reflect promised compensation in a straightforward structure, but this was delayed over and over by the University of Louisville.”

The statement on behalf of Jurich added that his legal team “will vigorously defend his rights under his long-standing contract with the University of Louisville. It is unfortunate that President Postel and Board Chair Grissom have chosen to attempt a character assassination of a man who has done so much for Louisville. ”

The full letter from Postel to Jurich on Oct. 20 can be read below:

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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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