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The pros and cons of Tom Jurich as potential USF AD candidate

Jurich's Louisville tenure was defined by big successes and big scandals
Former Louisville AD Tom Jurich - seen here after the Cardinals got into the ACC - is a controversial potential candidate at USF.  [ AP file photo ]
Former Louisville AD Tom Jurich - seen here after the Cardinals got into the ACC - is a controversial potential candidate at USF. [ AP file photo ]
Published Jun. 25, 2018

Former Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich has emerged as a legitimate candidate to take over USF, as our Joey Knight reported late last week.

Despite the chatter around USF and in the industry, I'm skeptical; I wouldn't be surprised if the Bulls' path took them to different former Power Five ADs.

Regardless, Jurich is a hot name with a mixed history. Let's explore the pros and cons:

Pros

• USF wants to get into a bigger conference, if (when?) the realignment carousel starts spinning again. Jurich already accomplished that job by getting Louisville into the ACC.

• Few relationships are as important as the one between an AD and his football coach. Jurich gave Charlie Strong his first head coaching job, so there's an obvious bond.

•  Jurich's programs won. The football team beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl (under Strong) and had the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner (Lamar Jackson). Rick Pitino led the Cardinals to a national title. The women's basketball team finished runnerup twice, and the baseball team has four trips to the College World Series in the past 11 years.

• Jurich helped with big facilities renovations, including two expansions of Louisville's football stadium. Given the Bulls' facility needs and questions, this is a notable selling point.

• He has local ties. Jurich owns a condo in Clearwater and told the Courier Journal he and his family "love the Tampa area" and were already planning to settle down here.

Cons

• His exit from Louisville was, to put it lightly, messy. The Cardinals were embroiled in the FBI basketball scandal, and the school's interim president accused Jurich of "ineffective management, divisive leadership and unprofessional conduct."

• His Cardinals tenure included multiple, serious scandals. Pitino had a personal sex scandal, which isn't to be confused with the stripper scandal that led to the Cardinals' national title being vacated. There were accusations of abuse and negligence in women's lacrosse. The football team took advantage of Wakeyleaks. Jurich also hired Bobby Petrino after his unsavory exit from Arkansas.

• On a more practical level, there were serious questions about how Louisville's athletic department and foundation conducted themelves in routine activities. The details here surrounding a soccer stadium are one example.

•Jurich made seven figures at Louisville as one of the highest-paid ADs in the country. Can USF afford that? The Bulls were paying Mark Harlan $525,000 a year. 

Do the pros outweigh the cons? We'll find out soon; USF is expected to name its new AD before July 4.

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