Career Retrospective: Tom Jurich

Career Retrospective: Tom Jurich
Tom Jurich

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - On Oct. 21, 1997, Tom Jurich was hired as Director of Athletics at the University of Louisville. A 1980 graduate of Northern Arizona University, Jurich had been athletic director at Colorado State University prior to taking the UofL job.

As Vice President and Director of Athletics, Jurich led a campaign to not only improve the UofL athletic programs but the facilities that house them, earning him a reputation as one of the best athletic directors in America. Construction of new stadiums for soccer, field hockey, softball, baseball, track and field and swimming all happened on his watch.

Following the retirement of legendary basketball coach Denny Crum following the 2001 season, Jurich surprised the college basketball world by hiring Rick Pitino, who had left the University of Kentucky after the 1997 season to go to the NBA's Boston Celtics. Under Pitino's leadership, the Cardinals have been to the NCAA Final Four three times, winning the National Championship in 2013.

UofL also is the most profitable college basketball program in the country, and often leads the NCAA in television ratings each season.

Jurich has become known for the hiring of top-notch head coaches in all sports. Jeff Walz has put the women's basketball program on the national stage with two trips to the National Championship game. Dan McDonnell has taken UofL baseball to the College World Series four times, Charlie Strong coached the football team to bowl games during each of his four years at the helm, winning three. The men's soccer program went to the national title game in 2010. The swimming program has produced Olympic competitors. Kelsi Worrell was a member of Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Six other Cardinals also took part in the Rio Games competing for their home countries.

Before his tenure at Colorado State, Jurich, at age 29, became the youngest AD in NCAA Division I when he was hired at Northern Arizona, his alma mater, where he stayed for eight years.

A football player in college, Jurich was a punter, placekicker and backup quarterback at Northern Arizona. He was drafted in the 10th round by the Pittsburgh Steelers and later played with the Minnesota Vikings.

Copyright 2017 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.