When you live in and around the city of Louisville, there are certain things to which one grows accustomed. The presence of Cardinal fans almost every place you go, the constant news coverage on TV, the bias over at the Courier-Journal, and UofL fan boy radio are all things us UK fans in enemy territory must tolerate because, and rightly so, Louisville is the hometown school. Everybody gets that and we live with it. It's the nature of the beast. The best thing a Kentucky fan in Louisville can do is wear the color blue proudly and shut out all of the red static as best as humanly possible.
And then comes the newest Cardinal intrusion into every day life. The University of Louisville Athletic Department is partnering with Thornton's to raise money for a new academic center. Thornton's is donating the bulk of the cash. What Thorton's isn't ponying up will be donated by fans. At the gas pump. Wait...What?
That's right folks! After you finish pumping 10 gallons of gas at $3.29 per gallon, a little message pops up and asks the consumer if he/she would like to donate an extra $.50 to the University of Louisville Athletic Department. This is pandering at it's worst. What's next for UofL? Perhaps a bake sale on Broadway or maybe a lemonade stand in front of Tom Jurich's office?
Look, I understand that all universities fund raise and ask alumni for donations for various projects. As a Bellarmine University alum, I receive things in the mail and get about one phone call per year asking for donations. The University of Kentucky has the K Fund and multiple fund raising opportunities for alumni and Kentucky fans to contribute to their team.
But Louisville has done something that no other athletic department, to my knowledge, has done. They skipped going to their alumni and went right to the public. Not just Louisville fans, but the general public that include people that aren't fans or just don't care. There are two ways to look at this: 1). This is an ingenious fund raising tactic generated by visionary Tom Jurich; or 2). This is a pathetic excuse to gouge people for money that the athletic department has in great amounts.
Let's look at option two for a second. Louisville fans often like to brag about how they have the most profitable college basketball team in the land. For three straight years, Forbes has crunched the numbers and has determined that the basketball Cards are tops in earnings. In 2014, their net worth was calculated as $39.5 million, beating out the likes of Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Syracuse, and Duke, homes of some of college basketball's most rabid fans. I wouldn't exactly call Louisville fans rabid. They like basketball well enough, but I wouldn't put them in the rabid category.
When Louisville was playing ball in Freedom Hall, they didn't crack the top 20 in revenue earned. But once they moved into the KFC Yum! Center, the revenue skyrocketed. So why the increase in revenue? This is, of course, due to the ever controversial sweetheart deal that was placed in UofL's lap by the arena authority. If you want to read the details of that deal, which have been covered extensively, please do so here.
Now let's circle back to the matter at hand, pandering for money at the gas pump. It's quite insulting that Tom Jurich, Thornton's and the UofL Athletic Department are all making money hand over fist in their sketchy arena deal, and outrageous gas prices, yet they still want to press matters further in an are in which Americans are struggling financially on a daily basis. It isn't enough that someone loads $50 dollars into the gas station, but now they are being asked by Tommy Turtleneck for even more money towards his extremely lucrative enterprise. Not only is it insulting, it's rather rotten.
So, while Jurich and the Athletic Department enjoy record breaking monetarily earnings, they stand in front of you, consumer of petroleum, like Oliver Twist.
Even Cardinal fans are confused by this latest tactic and are opting not to give their money to Czar Jurich.
"They got a lot of money… They got a lot of money…to be asking people for money, but evidently they must need it, that's why they asking for it they must need it." Jacuma Taylor said. He also told WDRB he opted not to donate.
Everybody's entitled to their opinion," Jurich said. "We're very fortunate. We've had unbelievable support from the community."
Even some diehard Cards fan say they would pass.
"I would click no," U of L fan David Burkhead said. He thinks Thortons can donate more on its own.
"To be honest with you, I think Thortons has got enough money. They really don't need money from people out on the streets, definitely not down here on broadway," Burkhead explained.
Of course, no one HAS to donate. I just found the entire thing completely absurd and out of touch. UofL athletics are always finding new ways to be ridiculous and mock worthy, this was just the latest in a long line.
This is something that I had to poke fun at. If the shoe were on the other foot, I'm sure there would be plenty of jokes lobbed at Mitch Barhardt and the 'Cats.
Back to your regularly scheduled Kentucky athletics news, views, and commentary.
Go Cats. Beat the Bulldogs.