The Galt House Hotel commits $3.5 million to U of L Athletics Tuesday, Jul 21 2020 

By Cole Emery —

The Al J. Schneider Company has committed $3.5 million to the University of Louisville’s Athletic fund. The Al J. Schneider Company was formed in Louisville in 1947 and owns many local hotels, the most iconic being the Galt House Hotel. 

The gift from the Schneider Company will be given to the university over the next 10 years. The funds will be funneled into an expansion and renovation of the Planet Fitness Kueber Center. The Kueber Center was built in 2007 and includes training facilities and offices on U of L’s campus for the basketball teams and lacrosse team. 

“The sponsorship agreement avails us the opportunity to experience the amazing renovation of the hotel rooms and its amenities going forward,” said U of L’s Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “The larger meeting space allows more supporters to experience some of our annual events for the first time. The Schneider family has been long time supporters of the university and we are very fortunate to forge this mutually beneficial partnership for years to come.”

In addition to the donation, special events for Cardinal Athletics, such as the annual Football Kickoff Luncheon and Basketball Tipoff Luncheons, will be staged in the newly renovated ballrooms, restaurants and public areas of the Galt House Hotel. 

“U of L Athletics is a centerpiece of our community, and this is a chance for us to be part of that excitement,” said Scott Shoenberger, president and CEO of the Al J. Schneider Company. “We are thrilled to be able to support another iconic Louisville institution in this way, and look forward to a long-standing, mutually beneficial partnership.”

The University of Louisville will recognize the donation by naming the football suite levels on the east and west sides of the Cardinal Stadium as The Galt House Hotel Suite Level. Signage throughout the stadium will identify the areas, as well as inclusion on the suite level tickets.

Photo Courtesy of Kenny Klein 

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Louisville men’s basketball stops operations after positive COVID-19 tests Wednesday, Jul 8 2020 

By John McCarthy —

University of Louisville men’s basketball activities have come to an abrupt halt after two members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19. U of L athletics has been testing student-athletes for COVID-19 regularly since May 29. U of L is not disclosing who tested positive within the organization.

This comes nearly two months after U of L reopened its doors to student-athletes for voluntary workouts. At this point, it is unknown if any other members of the men’s basketball organization have been exposed to those who tested positive.

“[Men’s] basketball is certainly a sport that is going to get a lot of attention. These two individuals exhibited signs and we were able to have them tested on Monday. Because we are part of the U of L health system we were able to get those results back quickly. Through quarantining and contact tracing we are able to make sure we have everyone covered in the program,” Athletic Director Vince Tyra said during a virtual press conference on July 7.

U of L men’s basketball has been following all CDC approved guidelines and regulations for involuntary workouts leading up to the incident. Proper quarantine guidelines will be in play for the members of the men’s basketball organization that were potentially exposed to the virus.

The possibility of positive tests has trickled into other sports as well. U of L football has continued to push back the start date of their season. The ACC’s original plan for the Cardinals to host North Carolina State on Sept. 2 is to be determined.

“You have to know that if you enter a season you are going to run into instances like we are running into now,” Tyra said. “There is a lot of monitoring going on to discuss these situations that campuses are individually having.”

Vince Tyra talked about the steps that would be taken if mid-season positive COVID-19 tests occur. “You have to be prepared. That is where you get into situations whether it is a no-contest or a forfeit. These are going to be things that we are dealing with for the first time,” Tyra said.

The 2020-2021 men’s basketball schedule has yet to be released.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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Louisville Basketball legend Wes Unseld dead at 74 Tuesday, Jun 2 2020 

By John McCarthy–

Wes Unseld, 74, passed away on May 2. Unseld was a former U of L basketball player and member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He was a sight to see on the basketball court displaying unrivaled skills at the collegiate level and excelling in the NBA as well. Unseld’s number, 31, is one of only four numbers to be retired in the history of U of L basketball.

Unseld grew up in Louisville and attended Seneca High School. He played all of his collegiate years for the University of Louisville. He still holds the single-game scoring record for U of L with 45 points.

“Wes is one of my all-time favorite players. He was a local player who had great success at U of L,” University of Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra said. Unseld is one of only five Louisville Cardinal basketball players to collect over 1,000 rebounds in their career.

Unseld goes down in U of L basketball history as the 11th highest scoring player and 2nd on the U of L all-time rebounding rankings. His record with the Cardinals throughout his career is an impressive 60-22. Following an unforgettable career at U of L, Unseld was the second player selected in the 1968 NBA Draft. He played 13 years in the NBA and became only the second player ever to be named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player. He was a five-time NBA All-Star and led the Bullets to an NBA title in 1978.

Unseld was welcomed into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988 and was selected among the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996 in honor of the NBA’s 50th anniversary.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L set to reopen some athletic facilities near end of May Friday, May 22 2020 

By John McCarthy —

The University of Louisville announced May 21 that they will open their doors for voluntary workouts. Beginning June 8 the Trager Center, Schnellenberger Football Complex and Planet Fitness Kueber Center will be utilized for workouts during the first phase of the university’s return to athletic training.

Facilities for student-athletes will be up and running, just in time for the online summer semester which begins June 2. This makes U of L the first school in the ACC to make this move for their athletics department.

During a press conference, U of L athletic director Vince Tyra spoke on behalf of the university regarding the reopening.

“We have worked very closely with our campus leadership, medical professionals and coaching staffs to prepare a comprehensive plan for a safe return to campus for our student-athletes to participate in voluntary activities,” Tyra said.

Tyra said the number of student-athletes that arrive on campus will be limited and divided into phases. 45 student-athletes–30 football players and 15 men’s and women’s basketball players– will arrive at campus beginning May 27. Testing for COVID-19 and physical examinations for those athletes will begin on June 3. They will be available to participate in voluntary workouts once they have passed the examinations.

This move toward normalcy by U of L comes nearly eleven weeks after all athletic competition was suspended on March 17 due to COVID-19.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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NCCA sends U of L a Notice of Allegations Monday, May 4 2020 

By Cole Emery–

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi informed the campus community in an email on May 4 that U of L has received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA regarding the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 men’s basketball program. The notice came after a two-year long investigation by the NCAA enforcement staff.

Louisville was given four allegations against them, all regarding improper recruitment. They were given one Level I allegation and three Level II violations, two of the highest possible allegations a university can receive.

In her email, Bendapudi outlined the allegations as follows:

  • “A Level I allegation that an improper recruiting offer, and subsequent extra benefits to the family of an enrolled student athlete; and a recruiting inducement to a prospective student-athlete’s non-scholastic coach/trainer, were provided by certain individuals, purportedly identified and defined by the NCAA as “representatives of the university’s athletics interests,” none of whom had traditional connections to the University beyond their affiliation with Adidas or professional athlete management entities, as well as by a former assistant coach and a former associate head coach;
  • A Level II allegation of recruiting violations by the same two former men’s basketball coaching staff members in providing impermissible transportation and having impermissible contact in the context of recruitment-related activities; 
  • A Level II allegation that the institution failed to adequately monitor the recruitment of an incoming, high-profile student-athlete;
  • A Level II allegation that the former head men’s basketball coach did not satisfy his head coach responsibility when he failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.”

Following Bendapudi’s email, she and Vince Tyra, U of L’s athletic director, held a press teleconference.

“Throughout the lengthy investigation and enforcement process, because we have nothing to hide, the university worked with the NCAA enforcement staff and shared discovery. However, we aggressively pushed back throughout the process to do all we could possibly do to limit the number and seriousness of the allegations received today,” Tyra said.

Since these are only allegations, U of L is preparing a full and comprehensive response and plans to submit the response within a 90-day period. In her email, Bendapudi said the university will take responsibility for the allegations supported by facts and evidence. 

“We will not hesitate — repeat, not hesitate — to push back on those allegations that we simply don’t believe are supported by facts, NCAA law or by precedent, “Bendapudi said during the conference. “What we have done together as a Cardinal family, to be a model of compliance, a model of ethical conduct. I truly believe that we have gone above and beyond any other institution.”

Since taking office in 2018, Bendapudi said the university has made more than a dozen changes, including a change in leadership with a new university president, new athletic director, new coach and new assistant coaches; new chains of reporting; a revision of the head coach contract to reflect NCAA compliance expectations; and the athletic department has enhanced its rules education and compliance monitoring for all staff and began an ethical leadership series required for all athletics staff.

“The university remains committed to a complete and transparent reform,” Bendapudi said in her email. “None of the men’s basketball staff members involved in the allegations are still representing the university and neither of the involved men’s basketball prospects referenced in the allegations ever represented U of L in athletic competition.” 

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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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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