Men’s basketball attendance continues post-Pitino slide Monday, Nov 11 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

Since 2013, the University of Louisville men’s basketball team has seen a steady decline in attendance at home games. With new leadership bringing improved morale to the program, the university is looking to shift the attendance trend in a positive direction.

From 2013 to 2018, the average attendance at men’s basketball games decreased by a staggering 23 percent, dropping from 21,571 to 16,601 in that timeframe.

At the end of the 2013 season, the average attendance for home games was at 21,571. The next four seasons averaged around 21,100 fans for each home game, the lowest year being 2017 with an average of only 20,486 fans per home game.

Over the last two decades, the 2018 season saw the lowest average attendance, averaging a mere 16,883 fans each home game. This was the first time the team averaged under 20,000 people per game since moving into the Yum! Center in 2010. It also marked the program’s first time being outside of the top five in the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball attendance since 1995.

As the average attendance went down, so did the number of season ticket holders. For the 2016-2017 season, there were 19,086 season ticket holders, but over the next two years, U of L only averaged about 15,300 season ticket sales. Again, 2018 was their lowest ever with only 13,672 season tickets sold.

U of L’s biggest declines came after the 2017 scandal surrounding the men’s basketball program. Amid the firing of then coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich, the massive drop in attendance had begun. By February of the 2017-2018 season, the average attendance was at 17,474.

Scandal fatigue had set in at this point, and the interim coach at the time, David Padgett, wasn’t getting it done on the court to bring in fans. At the end of this season, the men’s basketball program had a 19 percent decrease in the average attendance compared to the 2017 season.

Even with new head coach Chris Mack restoring life to the program last year, the average attendance for games was 16,601. This also put the team outside of the top five in average attendance for the second straight season.

In an effort to bring attendance back up for the 2018-2019 season, U of L offered a “Perfect Attendance Perks” plan that rewarded fans for coming to every home game. The plan offered fans a 10 percent discount for this year’s season tickets if they had at least one ticket scanned at each game during last season.

Even fans who did not attend every home game received perks depending on how many games they attended. Those who went to 17 games last year received 5 percent off season tickets this year, and fans who went to at least 15 games gained access to a postseason event.

The “Perfect Attendance Perks” will continue for the 2019-2020 season along with new monthly perks being offered. For the month of November, five fans will gain access to a team practice and a signed basketball for having perfect attendance.

Basketball fans had even more incentive to buy season tickets this year with about a 44 percent cut in prices for the upper level, mid-court and end zone/corners. This is also the first season that men’s basketball season ticket prices varied upon seat location, whereas before they were $983 for every season ticket holder.

Looking at the upcoming 2019-2020 season, U of L is expecting about a 8 percent increase in season ticket sales, with 14,881 purchased so far. Of that 14,881, there are 414 seats that are unpaid or only partially paid, so there could be a decrease in that number by the end of the season.

During the struggling years, U of L stood behind its fan base, confident they will show up. “You look at schools across the country and we’re doing very well,” said Kenny Klein, senior associate athletic director of sports information.

Starting with the home opener Nov. 10, fans have the option to rent suites with multiple rental plans available. Prices start at $2,500 for single games and go up to $15,000 for a five game plan that includes two non-conference games, two conference games (excluding North Carolina and Virginia) and one premium game (North Carolina, Virginia or Michigan).

With the rental of a suite, fans get 16 suite tickets, four parking passes and six suite passes per game. They also offer a three game package, and there are four party suites in which seats are sold individually. Suites do not include complimentary food, but they offer a waiting service.

As a result of lower attendance, the university has been advertising the suite rentals to fans for this season. Of the 71 suites in the Yum! Center, only 62 have been rented out for the entire season, ranging from $85,000 to $92,000 for the year. Klein said that nine unrented suites for the season is more than they’ve had in the past.

He cited the reason for this being that companies who normally rent them for the season aren’t getting a tax break on them. “Companies that may have had them using them as entertainment and such, the cost of that isn’t necessarily tax deductible,” said Klein. He reinforced that this was the main cause of people dropping their rentals and not the prices.

More affordable general admission ticket prices and package plans are efforts to bring more fans back. “We’ve made a lot of those upper seats very affordable,” said Klein. “We’ve got a six game package out there right now where you can pick and choose certain games.”

This will also be the first year that season tickets for students are not available. Instead, the university introduced “Flight 23,” a ticket subscription service which is saving students more than $100 a year on sporting events. Tickets are on a first come first serve basis for men’s basketball, meaning that not every student is guaranteed entrance to home games.

Thomas Lotspeich, freshman, said he had trouble getting into the football game against Notre Dame earlier this year with the “Flight 23” system. “There should be more clear instructions, especially for the first week. I only got in after the school opened up other sections for students after the student section got completely taken up,” said Lotspeich.

Similar miscommunications have happened with the first home basketball game as well. Lotspeich said he did not get tickets to the season opener because he was under the impression that he claimed tickets for two weeks worth of games and not on a game-to-game basis.

President of the official student section the “Ville’ns,” Andrew Wiemels, said he noticed student attendance drop in the last several years. He is optimistic that attendance will increase with coach Mack. “I think we will have an increase in attendance, the buzz around the team is huge both nationally and on campus,” said Wiemels.

Klein said they have allotted enough student seating for home games that a student not getting in is unlikely. “We want our students there,” said Klein. “That’s important to the atmosphere of the games.” He said that is one of the biggest differences between professional and college sports.

Attendance for the home opener against Youngstown State Nov. 10 was a sparse 14,761, leaving almost 8,000 seats empty. This is also under the team’s average last year.

“I think there’s a lot of people who feel good about our program right now,” said Klein.

Photo By Matthew Keck // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Nwora, Enoch lead No. 5 Louisville past Youngstown St. 78-55 Sunday, Nov 10 2019 

The Cards started the second half making seven of their first nine shots to put away the Penguins (1-1).

        

U of L Medicine engineered a treadmill to help children with spinal cord injuries Wednesday, Nov 6 2019 

By Jessica Kisling —

Since 2012 the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC) have been using locomotive means for children’s physical therapy. Due to a previous lack of resources, children had been using machines designed for adults.

“This project is an example of what happens when we have collaboration among our faculty, our staff, private industry and philanthropists to make sure that the knowledge that’s created inside out four walls doesn’t stay there,” said President Neeli Bendapudi.

During the last seven years, a team of engineers and spinal cord specialists teamed together and developed the technology needed to better aid children in their recovery from spinal cord injuries. They have since made a treadmill and harness suited for adolescents, meaning the children no longer have to use the bigger machines.

With this newly developed treadmill, the doctors and researchers at U of L are giving children a better chance at regaining mobility. Many times before accidents would leave the patient paralyzed, or partially paralyzed, and unable to walk.

The new treadmill includes a smaller and more adaptable harness as well as a smaller tread that better suits the children’s bodies. The new machine also positions the trainer at a more convenient location so they are closer to the patient while not placing significant physical strain on them. In addition, the designers included a movable tower to help children out of their wheelchairs and onto the treadmill.

All of the new pediatric treadmill advantages for both children and trainers includes:

  • Suspension tower that is located behind the child on the treadmill so therapists can more easily and directly engage with the child.
  • Narrower tread, focusing the child’s steps and bringing trainers closer to the child’s legs and feet.
  • Trainers’ seats are more appropriately positioned closer to the child and are adjustable to accommodate trainers of different heights.

“Such improvements open up other possibilities to play and engage and help a child get back on the development track,” said Professor Andrea Behrman, head of the project and department of neurological surgery.

Behrman and Tommy Roussel led the research and development over the past seven years. The main donors for the treadmill are Kosairs, WHAS charities, the Christopher and Dana Reeve foundation and the Independent Pilots Association  foundation.

The new treadmill and harness are now used at the Frazier Rehab Institute in Louisville and other facilities across the country.

Photo Courtesy of The University of Louisville 

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U of L will be part of the new hub for healthcare innovations in Kentucky Monday, Nov 4 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville and University of Kentucky received a $4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to improve healthcare technologies Oct. 31. This grant will be used to form a Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub, which includes all eight of Kentucky’s public universities along with Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges System.

“One of the things to keep in mind is that the health care sector here in Kentucky privately employs over 30,000 of our fellow citizens,” said interim secretary for the Cabinet for Economic Development Vivek Sarin. “It’s one of the top sectors driving our total economy.”

The hub will be called the “Kentucky Network for Innovation & Commercialization,” or KYNETIC, and is one of five hubs funded by the NIH. The hub is designed to speed up the translation of biomedical discoveries into commercially viable diagnostics, devices, therapeutics and tools to improve patient care and enhance health, according to the NIH.

“This is not a trick but a great treat for every single person in the Commonwealth,” said President Neeli Bendapudi. “This will provide innovation to improve the health of Kentuckians and people around the world.”

According to NIH, selected hubs are required to match the federal funding they receive and develop partnerships with life science and economic development organizations. The KYNETIC founding members will provide a $2.56 million direct-cost match to help with the funding.

Each university involved will also partner with the Commonwealth Commercialization Center (C3), a science and technology nonprofit that supports invention and entrepreneurship across the state.

“Kentucky’s ability to win this grant — one of only a handful ever awarded nationwide — was made possible in large part because of the unprecedented collaboration between our economic development cabinet, public universities and technical colleges in creating our non-profit commercialization center, C3,” Gov. Matt Bevin said. “This grant further validates the significance of C3’s public-private structure and our decision to revitalize Kentucky’s innovation and entrepreneurial support system. Together, we can have a truly positive impact on the health of Kentuckians and people around the world.”

KYNETIC aims to bring innovations such as new pharmaceuticals, therapies, devices and other healthcare technologies to the market. They also aim to address issues like lack of healthcare in rural areas.

This new hub will also be an asset in expanding U of L Health’s current research and medical developments.

“With the acquisition of Jewish Hospital and other KentuckyOne Health properties, researchers at U of L will have additional opportunities to recruit patients for clinical studies to advance research emerging from KYNETIC,” said Bendapudi. “Projects developed through KYNETIC will have the potential to further existing U of L research efforts in optimal aging, improve access to quality health care in underserved urban and rural regions, and bolster efforts to both attract and retain top faculty and students at U of L.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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KentuckyOne Health assets are officially owned by U of L Monday, Nov 4 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville has officially finalized the purchase of KentuckyOne Health’s assets as of Nov. 1. This ends the uncertain future of the struggling Jewish Hospital, now U of L Health–Jewish Hospital.

“This is an exciting and historic day for the University of Louisville,” said president Neeli Bendapudi. “This acquisition enables us to ensure access to quality health care for our entire community, and it strengthens our School of Medicine and our Health Sciences Center campus by allowing us to offer more training opportunities for our students and more research capacity for our faculty. It also saves thousands of jobs that could have been lost if any of these facilities closed.”

About 5,500 former KentuckyOne employees have joined U of L Health as part of this acquisition. Each hospital under this purchase has also been rebranded under the U of L Health name.

In the coming weeks the only visible differences from this purchase will be the new signs with each hospitals new name. The new names for each hospital were announced Oct. 28.

The one thing that was not finalized on Nov. 1 is the $50 million loan U of L is counting on from the state. This loan won’t be approved – if it is approved -until January 2020 by state lawmakers.

The process of this acquisition started back in January with U of L searching for a viable partner to make the purchase.

One of the reasons U of L backed out of buying the KentuckyOne assets earlier this year was due to funding. “Without a viable partner, we do not have the resources necessary to make the acquisition a reality,” Bendpaudi said earlier this year.

It was only when the state stepped in and promised a $50 million loan that U of L said they would purchase KentuckyOne’s assets.

U of L – pending the approval of the loan – is expecting half of it to be forgiven. They must meet certain criteria in terms of employment and service to underserved areas in order for the $25 million to be forgiven.

U of L will also be receiving funding from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and the Jewish Hospital and St. Mary’s Foundation. The former is contributing $10 million and the latter $40 million to the deal.

“As we transfer the ownership and operations to U of L Health, I am optimistic that these facilities will continue their legacy of excellence and innovation led by the outstanding employees and providers,” said Larry Schumacher, senior vice president of operations, CommonSpirit Health Southeast Division.

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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Sustainability fair encourages students to think about their environment Friday, Nov 1 2019 

By Eli Hughes —

The University of Louisville Sustainability Council held its 12th annual Sustainability Fair Oct. 23 on the humanities quad to celebrate and encourage sustainability throughout the campus community.

Numerous student organizations, university programs and off-campus non-profits were present at the fair to inform students about their goals and hopefully get them involved.

One of the tables at the fair was Divest, a student organization that focuses on getting the university to invest money in industries that are environmentally friendly. They believe the only way for U of L to be committed to sustainability is to stop investing in certain industries and redirect their money to sustainable industries instead.

Sophomore Grace Engelman said that where the campus is putting their money is important and many students are starting to realize it. “They’re also realizing that to dismantle these harmful systems we have to go for the money,” said Engelman.

For students who were looking for off-campus non-profits to volunteer with, there were options including The Food Literacy Project. Their group is dedicated to educating Louisville youth about food. Nicole Funk, the educational resource coordinator of the organization, wants to educate children because she believes that many of them don’t know much about the food they eat.

“It’s important that they know they can grow their food, even in urban areas, and they don’t need to rely on corporations,” said Funk. They host farmers markets, field-to-fork clubs and a youth community agriculture program.

Health Promotion tabled at the fair too. Their mission is to educate students and give them the resources they need to make healthy decisions. Program coordinator Jenna Orwick said they try to offer services through a sustainable lens.

Their smoothie bike, which they take with them to events, shows that you can make a healthy drink, get some exercise and power a blender with sustainable man-made energy. HP promoted their “Bee Smoke-Free” campaign too, which tells the dangers that smoking causes to bees.

Photo Madelynn Bland // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Health Science Campus experiences sustainability week for first time Friday, Nov 1 2019 

By Byron Hoskinson —

The University of Louisville’s 12th annual Sustainability Week featured over 30 sustainability-related events across the Belknap and Health Science Campuses.  

The week is held each October to raise awareness for environmental issues, promote student engagement in eco-friendly initiatives and showcase career opportunities in sustainability.  The eight-day, multi-location production was the collaborative effort of the university’s Student Government Association, Sustainability Council, Office of the Provost, Dining Services, several RSOs and local nonprofit organizations.   

 It started in 2008 as a single day event, but sustainability week has expanded over the years as the university has made sustainability a central part of its long-term plans, assistant to the provost for sustainability Justin Mog said.  

For the first time, Sustainability Week events spread beyond the Belknap campus to the Health Science Center.  The HSC events were spearheaded by the recently formed HSC Green Team, a group designed to address sustainability concerns related to the health field, Mog said. The events included a series of documentaries, free bike tune-ups and a professional development workshop presented by Mog called “Business as Usual is Killing Us: It’s Time for Institutional Weirding in the Age of Global Climate Weirding.” 

The week included plenty of food for students, kicking off at the Red Barn with the Farm-To-Table Dinner, hosted by the university’s dining services and featuring a five-course meal created with locally-sourced ingredients. It concluded with a “Lunch and Learn” workshop, hosted by the Sustainability Council’s EcoReps program and featuring a free vegetarian lunch.  

The Cardinal Cupboard, a project of SGA’s Engage Lead Serve Board, collected over 1,500 pounds of nonperishable goods for students in a two-day collection blitz held across campus, said Sustainability Council communications intern Henny Ransdell.

Additionally, over $600 was raised for U of L’s Green Fund, which goes towards implementing new campus sustainability initiatives, Mog said.  

Throughout the week, numerous nonprofits and environmentally-focused organizations came to campus to raise awareness and promote jobs in sustainability and renewables.  

Mog was similarly optimistic about graduating students’ prospects in sustainability fields.  

“The opportunities for careers in sustainability have been expanding.  Most universities and many corporations and governments now have a sustainability coordinator or director,” he said.  “There’s been a big boom in interest and it’s encouraging to see.”

Sustainability week ended with some of its initiatives carrying over into Homecoming Weekend.  

“For the Homecoming game, fans should see a new ‘zero-waste approach’ implemented to game days,” Mog said.  He said the approach is an attempt to eliminate all non-recyclables from within the stadium itself, including from vendors and fans.  

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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David Grissom submits his resignation from board of trustees Tuesday, Oct 29 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

The University of Louisville board of trustees will be losing their third member this year when former board chair David Grissom submitted his resignation Oct. 28.

John Karman, U of L spokesman, confirmed this and said it will be effective as of Dec. 1.

In July of this year Mary Nixon was voted as the new chairwoman of the board, with Grissom slated to remain on the board until his term expired. Grissom also came under fire earlier this year for his comments on the 2013 basketball scandal. 

Grissom was recorded in a deposition saying that former President James Ramsey told him that a board member was the cash source behind the scandal. This raised a lot of questions of who the potential source was and why Grissom didn’t give the name of said trustee.

In January of this year Grissom was in the spotlight again for calling President Neeli Bendapudi’s voice “sexy” during a board meeting. Bendapudi dismissed the sexist claims of the comments and said that it was nothing more than humor.

During his time as the chair Grissom was part of major decisions such as hiring Bendapudi. He was also a leading force in the firing of former basketball coach Rick Pitino and Athletic Director Tom Jurich.

U of L ended up with a settlement for more than $7 million to be paid to Jurich, while Pitino ultimately settled with the university not paying him any money.

Under Grissom, the board proceeded with a lawsuit suing Ramsey for unscrupulous spending during his tenure. This lawsuit is still pending.

Grissom was appointed to the board in January 2017 when Gov. Matt Bevin did a complete overhaul. Bevin gave Grissom the longest appointed term set to expire on Jan. 13, 2023.

The U of L board now has three spots to fill, with Nitin Sahney and Dr. Fred Williams Jr. both submitting their resignations earlier in September.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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Jewish Hospital will now be called U of L Hospital–Jewish Campus Tuesday, Oct 29 2019 

By Matthew Keck —

U of L has announced Jewish Hospital will now be called U of L Hospital–Jewish Campus after the sale is completed Nov. 1.

“The name respects Jewish Hospital’s history as a leader in cardiovascular services, neurosciences and transplantation while also preserving its legacy of serving the community,” said Jill Scoggins, interim director of communications at U of L Health Sciences Center. She also said that U of L Hospital’s name will not be changing.

Under this new name and acquisition the two hospitals will be united as one but with two locations. Both locations will operate under the same leadership team and direction. This unification is to help restore and support the services, research, employees, physicians and programs at Jewish.

“Health care in Louisville has grown because of the commitment made by these organizations to improve the health of patients throughout the greater Louisville community and the passion they have to serve with excellence and compassion,” said President Neeli Bendapudi. “The University of Louisville and U of L Health will build on this foundation, to improve wellness for our community, by building a regional academic health care system based on treatment innovations, leading-edge research and patient-centered care.”

Since U of L can’t operate a religious entity under the Catholic faith, the name of Saints Mary and Elizabeth and Our Lady of Peace Hospitals were changed as well. Those hospitals are now U of L–Mary and Elizabeth and U of L–Peace Hospitals.

The chapels will remain. “As is the case at U of L Hospital, people of all faiths are encouraged to use the chapels as they choose,” said Scoggins. “Chaplains are on staff to support and honor the many different faiths and traditions observed by patients and employees.”

The other KentuckyOne Health properties being renamed are:

  • U of L Health–Frazier Rehab
  • U of L Health–Rudd Heart and Lung Center
  • U of L Health–Shelbyville Hospital
  • U of L Health–Medical Center Southwest
  • U of L Health–Medical Center South (Shephardsville)
  • U of L Health–Medical Center East
  • U of L Health–Medical Center Northeast

The physicians practice associated with KentuckyOne will be renamed under the U of L Physicians brand to reflect the new alignment with U of L Health.

U of L announced in August it would be purchasing the struggling KentuckyOne facilities. They will be receiving $126 million in cash, debt-forgiveness and other sources over a four-year period from KentuckyOne.

In addition, U of L has made an agreement with the state government for a loan of $50 million, which will be partially forgivable. This loan cannot be approved by lawmakers until January 2020, two months after the close of this deal.

The sign changes on each facility will take place starting this week and will continue over the next several months. U of L Health will assume official ownership over these facilities as of Nov. 1.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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