The ACC cancels athletic activities for the rest of 2019-20 academic year Thursday, Mar 19 2020 

By Cole Emery —

The ACC made the decision to cancel sporting activities for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year March 17. Previously, the ACC decided to suspend all athletic activities until further notice, but a unanimous decision was made in order to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

“Our top priority remains the health and safety of our student-athletes as well as our fans, communities and the overall well-being of other during these uncharted time,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “We are particularly disappointed for our student-athletes and will continue to work with our membership to assess what is appropriate in the future.”

U of L’s Director of Athletics, Vince Tyra, addressed Cardinal fans March 16 and said, “We are in this business because we are driven to see results. We are competitors at heart, but right now that’s impossible to do. Our focus right now needs to be on how we can console, motivate and guide those around us – and to use this time to lay the critical groundwork for our next, best chapter. I am so proud of the student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans that call themselves Louisville Cardinals.”

“Our program is no stranger to adversity and rising to the next challenge is part of the Cardinals’ DNA,” Tyra said. “We will get through this together and I believe our best days are ahead of us.”

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Former U of L dance coach Todd Sharp banned from campus Saturday, Feb 15 2020 

By Matthew Keck —

Former University of Louisville Ladybird coach Todd Sharp was banned from campus and future events Feb. 3. This came after Sharp shot himself in the leg at the same hotel as the U of L baseball team’s lead-off dinner Jan. 24.

“We’ve made prudent decisions about the safety of our fans and employees as anyone would do when something of that nature occurs,” said Tyra.

Tyra sent out an email to U of L faculty and staff Feb. 3 to be on the lookout and alert authorities if they saw Sharp anywhere on campus.

“Earlier today, the university issued a persona-non-grata notice for former head dance coach Todd Sharp, prohibiting him from attending public and private university-related events, whether on or off campus, or from visiting our offices,” said Tyra. “Should you spot Mr. Sharp on or around campus, please immediately contact 9-1-1.”

Sharp’s attorney said that the shooting was an accident and didn’t take place anywhere near the U of L event. More information from Sharp’s side came to light Feb. 4 when he sat down for an interview with Wave 3.

“I don’t like Vince Tyra, but I wouldn’t hurt him or myself or anybody else,” Sharp told Wave 3. “I love U of L, and it’s been a heartbreak that everything I loved was taken away.”

Sharp said he had been carrying a gun on him recently after having his house broken into. He said he forgot the gun was in his pocket when he accidentally shot himself in the leg. He was taken to U of L Hospital and released the next day.

Sharp was one of the country’s most successful dance coaches during his 16 seasons with U of L. He led the Ladybirds to a combined 20 national championships.

Because of his great success, he starred in the reality show about the dance team “So Sharp,” on Lifetime. The show only lasted one season.

Sharp was fired by Tyra in 2018 because of fiscal misconduct. This was a result of approximately $40,000 found missing from the Ladybirds funding.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Cardinal stadium is getting several upgrades for the fall Monday, Jan 20 2020 

Victoria Doll —

The University of Louisville’s Athletic Department announced significant changes scheduled to take place at Cardinal Stadium to improve the game-day experience for the 2020 season opener. 

“This is another major step forward in our fan engagement strategy,” said U of L Athletic Director Vince Tyra. “The partnership established with Tailgate Guys last season was a great starting point, but this is an investment in every fan, not just those with premium seats, and this will help create more of a tradition around our football program. We’re excited to create this family environment that is missing around our stadium today.”

There are plans to have a new fan zone on the south side of the Central Avenue tunnel which will include a stage for live music, a beer garden, food truck options, a turf field and a family fun zone. U of L football spokesperson Rocco Gasparro said, “The construction of the fan zone is fluid, but could spend up to $1 million.”

These changes in the fan experience come with some drastic changes to parking. To help make the traffic flow more efficient, the purple lot will become a first-come, first-to-park model. A pass is still required to park in the purple lot; however, there will no longer be section-number parking for fans. 

U of L Athletics will no longer have access to the platinum T-lot located on the southeast corner of Floyd Street and Central Avenue due to the renovations of the parking lot and the addition of a new hotel; therefore, reserved parking will only remain in the platinum S and bronze lots. 

In an attempt to remain loyal to previous ticket holders, March 2020 ticket holders can make their parking decision before they open up the new options to the public. They can choose from the limited number of reserved parking passes, or choose the first-come, first-to-park option. The fans who have Cardinal Athletic Fund priority points will be presented the parking options first. 

In addition to the improvement in parking, U of L is working with multiple vendors in an attempt to improve both WiFi and cellular connection for fans. U of L Athletics has a goal by 2021 to have full mobile ticketing, and they view these changes as great steps forward. 

They will resume the seat refurbishing project that began last summer too. There are more than 37,800 seats in Cardinal Stadium that are receiving a new protective coat of paint that will return them to their former red color.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L and John Schnatter reach settlement over stadium naming rights Sunday, Nov 3 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville can finally put John Schnatter in the past. The University of Louisville Athletic Association announced Oct. 24 they have reached a five-year, $9.5 million settlement over the naming right’s deal for the football stadium.

The first payment of this deal to Schnatter will be $1.4 million and then $2 million each year over the next five years.

U of L athletic director Vince Tyra said the university is looking for a new naming rights partner but they are in no rush. “Our intention would be to try to get that buttoned up for next season and put a name back on the stadium,” said Tyra.

“Papa Johns” was removed from Cardinal stadium in July 2018 after Schnatter, Papa Johns founder, admitted to using racial slurs on a phone call. President Neeli Bendapudi was the leading force behind the removal of the name on the stadium.

After this incident Schnatter also resigned from his position as a board of trustee member at U of L.

Bendapudi said that Schnatter’s comments had fractured the community last year when the ordeal unfolded. “These comments were hurtful and unacceptable and they do not reflect the values of our university,” Bendpaudi said last year.

Schnatter’s naming rights deal with the university, which was negotiated back in 1996, was set to run through 2040.

Tyra said as U of L looks for a new sponsor for the stadium name they plan to sign a much shorter deal, more along the lines of a 10-year timeframe.

Whoever signs the new deal with U of L will be agreeing to a ‘morals’ clause, which was not included in Schnatter’s original deal. This would allow the university to void the deal if the partner comes into a public scandal.

Schnatter issued this statement in an email regarding the settlement:

“With Papa John’s being based in Louisville and me being the single largest shareholder in the company, I’m very glad to reach the agreement today with the University of Louisville. It was concluded with the best interests of the university and the students in mind. Something you can be sure of is that I will always support the community with passion and I will always work hard to inspire others to pursue their dreams just like I was able to pursue mine right here in Louisville, Kentucky.”

While the Papa Johns name is no longer affiliated with the stadium, their pizza is still sold at football games. The naming rights deal was a separate deal from the business itself.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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U of L College of Business to award research grants Thursday, Sep 19 2019 

By Jessica Kisling —

The University of Louisville College of Business will be giving five grants of $5,000 to further research and develop instructional tools to be used in the community.

The Project on Ethical Leadership Excellence started in 2018 with the original donation of $100,000 by Vince Tyra, the director of athletics at U of L. It is projected to last for 20 years. 

Since then, Adidas and the the university’s athletic department have agreed to donate $1,000,000 over the span of a decade to further aid the program. The Sam and Bonnie Rechter Family Trust donated the funds for these grants. 

Through this project the College of Business and athletic department hope to encourage more ethical leadership and research. Associate professor of management and co-head of the project Ryan Quinn said, “Positive and ethical leadership is leadership in which people are not just refraining from doing harm to the world, but actually making it better, and making their lives more meaningful in the process.”  

The tools developed will affect the ethical training in the athletic department, and the research addresses the moral and positive psychology that goes into athletics at U of L. 

Both Quinn and the university want this project, and these grants in particular, to help create a reputation for U of L and the College of Business as being about positive and ethical leadership. The training and research developed will eventually be shared with other colleges in the ACC, as well as other nonprofit and corporate arenas.

The project is open to both students of the university and the community. Applications are due on Oct. 15 and must include a brief explanation of the proposal along with a timeline and why it will promote ethical leadership. All proposals should be emailed to Quinn. The recipients of the grants will be announced on Nov. 15 and will begin on Jan. 1, 2020. 

Of the five recipients chosen, two will be for research and three for the tools development. More information about the application process can be found on the U of L School of Business’s website, and any questions can be directed to Quinn at ryan.quinn@louisville.edu.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L and Rick Pitino reach settlement Wednesday, Sep 18 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville Athletic Association can finally close the Rick Pitino chapter after almost two years in court.

“It’s a terrific day to get this behind us, and I’m sure the other side feels the same,” said Vince Tyra, U of L athletic director.

The ULAA board of trustees approved a settlement between the two parties on Sept. 18. The settlement comes eight days after both sides met for nine hours at the Louisville federal courthouse discussing the matter.

As part of the settlement Pitino will receive no money from U of L, but his personnel file will be changed to reflect that his employment ended in resignation. Both sides have agreed to dismiss their claims they filed against each other back in 2017.

U of L and Pitino issued a joint statement accompanying the announcement:

“For 17 years, Coach Pitino ran a program that combined excellence on the court with a commitment to the program’s student athletes, their academic achievement, and their futures in and out of basketball. Nevertheless, there were NCAA infractions during his term which led to serious consequences for the University. Although these infractions may not have occurred at Coach Pitino’s direction or with his knowledge, the problems leading to the NCAA infractions happened under his leadership. We thank Coach Pitino for his years of service to the University of Louisville basketball program and wish him well.”

U of L fired Pitino on Oct. 16, 2017, for just cause, negative press, contract violations and lack of supervision and compliance. This came shortly after Pitino and his staff were involved in a national recruiting scandal that is still being investigated by NCAA.

Pitino filed his lawsuit on Nov. 30, 2017, seeking almost $40 million from the university. He cited that he was still owed the salary remaining on his contract that was set to expire in June 2026 and that U of L had no right to fire him because he was unaware of the escort scandal that happened in 2013.

This argument failed to hold up with NCAA’s findings that Pitino failed to monitor his program, thus he was in violation of his 2015 contract.

On Dec. 13, 2017, U of L countersued Pitino for monetary damages incurring from the vacation of NCAA games, including the 2013 Final Four and National Championship appearances. U of L was seeking to receive any bonuses or compensation wrongly paid to Pitino for his NCAA appearances.

Pitino made six NCAA Elite Eight and three Final Four appearances in his 17 seasons with U of L. After the escort scandal U of L was forced to vacate 123 wins along with their 2012 Final Four and 2013 National Championship banners.

“Rick accomplished a lot here as head coach and our record books do show that,” Tyra said. “And although there will be asterisks there at times, he’s done quite a bit. So I don’t know if I would say we’ve washed our hands of Rick Pitino.”

Tyra said that this settlement has no impact on the NCAA’s current investigation with the university.

U of L and Pitino ultimately came to this agreement to avoid expenses and uncertainty litigation. In their agreement it states that neither party admits to liability or unlawful conduct during this litigation.

“We were solid in our stance from the beginning that this was zero liability for us,” Tyra said. “I think it was a terrific outcome for the university.”

This settlement will not be official until the federal judge overseeing the case approves the terms of it.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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PREVIEW: Men’s soccer 2019 Friday, Aug 30 2019 

By Gabriel Wiest–

Louisville men’s soccer is entering the 2019 season with high expectations. In a recent poll the Cardinals were ranked No. 14 in the nation, with past success and new head coach John Michael Hayden building anticipation.

Last year Louisville went 11-5-3 for the season, losing to high caliber teams such as No. 1 ranked Wake Forest 2-1 in overtime.

The Cards have had a great amount of success under the previous head coach Ken Lolla, turning the team into a major competitor in ACC play. Lolla lead the team to a national runner up title, four elite eight appearances and eight NCAA tournament sightings.

Lolla originally announced leaving the Cardinals last year, noting he wanted new challenges and felt accomplished with how he built the team.

Hayden was Lolla’s assistant coach for four seasons, giving him knowledge of the program’s culture. He also was assistant coach during the four elite eight appearances.

Athletic Director Vince Tyra said, “He’s a talented coach and a relentless recruiter who enjoys teaching an attacking style that will foster ongoing success.”

Talent on the 2019 roster also builds anticipation as Junior Emil Elveroth is on the MAC Hermann trophy watch list, known as the most prestigious award in college soccer. Last season he contributed 11 goals and five assists.

Louisville’s first regular season game will be against Cleveland State on Aug. 30 at 7:30 home at Lynn Stadium.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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Norton will be U of L sports new healthcare provider Saturday, Aug 24 2019 

By Matthew Keck–

The University of Louisville athletic department announced that Norton Healthcare will be their official healthcare provider on Aug. 22. Norton Sports Health will oversee the medical care for all 23 sports teams at U of L.

Norton Healthcare CEO Russ Cox said, “We think with having over 1,000 providers we’re going to be able to meet every need, any student-athlete at the University of Louisville may have.”

Cox noted that Norton’s experience with Jefferson County Public Schools helped this partnership happen.

The medical support provided by Norton includes conducting all sports physicals and access to Norton Sports Health medical team. Norton is also offering mental health services, including access to counseling and sports performance specialists.

Steven T. Hester, system chief medical officer of Norton Healthcare, said that one of their main focuses will be how they work with the athletes. “More than ever we find that student-athletes continued to be challenged with not just the performance side of things but all the things that go along with just being a student,” said Hester.

Vince Tyra, U of L athletic director, said that they started this partnership with Norton back in January but the partnership was not formalized until August. Tyra said head coaches have been working with the physicians and staff throughout the spring seasons.

Tyra emphasized the importance around the mental health care students will receive, stating it is one of the fastest growing concerns in the NCAA.

In addition to the medical care, Norton is providing funding for athletic trainers, campus training rooms and new imaging equipment. Athletes will have access to Norton eCare, which allows them to to speak with a nurse practitioner via computer or mobile device.

This change comes after U of L ended their 20-year deal with KentuckyOne Health when it expired last year.

There was no disclosed dollar amount. Tyra said that the deal was more about services and marketing assets. The current deal with Norton is three years with options for two additional three-year extensions.

Tyra said, “I just want to make sure their mind and body is taken care of while they’re here.”

Matthew Keck // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L purchases iconic Cardinal Stadium cabooses Thursday, Aug 22 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville Athletic Association announced they bought the cabooses that reside at Cardinal Stadium Aug. 14.

U of L will ultimately pay $1.5 million to Cabooses Express to keep the cabooses. The deal was broken down so the University of Louisville Athletic Association is paying $660,000 initially, then $140,000 for the next six years.

U of L Athletic Director Vince Tyra said it was never the universities intention to lose the cabooses. “We wanted more control and risk management in place,” said Tyra.

U of L officially assumed control of the cabooses on Aug. 1, but the deal wasn’t official until Aug. 14. The university is still bound to its leases with the cabooses’ tenants though.

Tyra also said the university wanted to makes this purchase to ensure more protection. He said they plan to do away with overnight stays in the cabooses. Tyra also said that there will be a meeting with the tenants to discuss the new rules.

For the past 20 years Caboose Express had leased the cabooses to U of L. The ULAA decided in January they weren’t going to renew the lease.

Tyra said the cabooses will absolutely be there for the football team’s season opener.

Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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Louisville cuts longest tenured coach Rex Ecarma Monday, Aug 19 2019 

By Gabriel Wiest —

After spending 29 years with Louisville tennis, the University of Louisville has decided to part ways with head coach Rex Ecarma. The University wanted a change in leadership pending an independent investigation.

Current assistant coach Jakob Gustafsson will be interim head coach while Louisville searches for someone to fill the role.

Athletics Director Vince Tyra said that Ecarma’s removal is based on an independent investigation that pointed out his flaws.

“We have been clear about our roles and expectations in providing our student-athletes an outstanding experience while a part of our program,” said Tyra.

Kenny Klein, senior associate athletic director for media relations, said the investigation was independent from the athletic department and conducted by the U of L Office of Risk. The investigation included interviews from past and present student-athletes.

“While we have great respect for Rex’s accomplishments as a player and a coach at the University of Louisville, we have determined a change in leadership for our tennis program is needed in our men’s tennis program,” Tyra said.

Ecarma’s time with Cardinal tennis spans from 1991-2019, earning a 475-317-1 career record for the Cardinals. During his time coaching he accomplished five conference championships and 12 NCAA team regional appearances with six regional finals.

Ecarma graduated from Louisville before becoming coach, amassing 92 career doubles victories, second in the programs history.

The Tennis program will kick off their 2019 season in September.

File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal

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