UofL Foundation Head: 'We're putting truth out there, developing trust'

UofL Foundation Head: 'We're putting truth out there, developing trust'

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The FBI basketball bribery investigation has caused havoc around the University of Louisville in the past week. Interim Executive Director Keith Sherman addressed the issue of its impact on the university foundation Thursday at the Rotary Club luncheon.

The UofL Foundation is tasked with finding a replacement for foundation member Vince Tyra who's now acting Athletic Director. Otherwise, Sherman says the basketball investigation is unfortunate, but athletics has its own fundraising arm.

He says their donors primarily support academics and thanks to major changes, they're gaining steam. Looking for a little levity when bringing up what's been one big cleanup project at the foundation, Sherman joked with the Rotary Club.

"I was told there probably wouldn't be a lot of interest about what's going on down at the University of Louisville," Sherman said.

The Interim Executive Director admitted, he didn't know the scope of how bad it was in December 2016, when then, interim president Neville Pinto asked him to step in.

"No, I did not know the extent of the issues," Sherman said.

Right after Sherman was brought in, the results of the state audit came and later, a scathing forensic investigation followed. Sherman told Rotary Club members, after a $38 million adjustment, the endowment now stands at $726 million.

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He said it could have been over $1 billion, had it not been for aggressive spending in the past eight to ten years.  That period came under the embattled former administration of Dr. James Ramsey.

"You look at the campus that looks so great, the growth and explosion down at UofL," Sherman said, "We mortgaged that, we spent too aggressively to get there and my job now, is to figure out how to pay it off as quickly as possible, so we can put it completely behind us and just continue to look for more growth."

As for the possibility of getting sued by the board of trustees for money lost with that prior excessive spending Sherman responded,

"You're always concerned about litigation, whether it's this or any other litigation." Sherman said.

He also said he trusts university leadership will make the right decision if that's pursued or isn't.  He says the foundation's focus has been addressing every finding in the audits. He says those policy changes are bringing back trust with donors and the community.

Sherman smiled when asked if he wanted the permanent position of Executive Director. He says just like Vince Tyra taking the acting AD job, he accepted this position because he wants to do everything he can to help the university succeed.

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