Last season, the University of Louisville finished 26th nationally in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup national all-sports standings, its highest ever. CBS Sports has recognized the UofL Athletics program among the top seven nationally in its annual “Best in College Sports” review in four of the last five years, including a No. 7 ranking in the 2016-17 season. The Cardinals have been successful in their new home in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In its three years in the ACC, Louisville has a combined 333-106 record in the four sports of baseball, football and men’s and women’s basketball, a .759 winning percentage that is the best in the league. A comprehensive look at last season is available online at this link: http://stats.gocards.com/review/2016-17/index.html
This year, we have plans to do even better.
As a new season is about to unfold, there is optimism surrounding all of the Cardinals’ 23 sports programs. But in addition to the competitions, UofL Athletics has significant plans for the 2017-18 season to continue to enhance the experience of its student-athletes and beloved Cardinal fans.
“UofL has a great record of achievements of which to be proud,” said Athletics Director Tom Jurich. “But I’m never satisfied with where we’ve been. We have big plans for where we’re going. Innovation is our expectation. To take the future, we have to make it. My job is to make our students successful in college and in life and that is why we‘re going to relentlessly focus on high-impact initiatives.”
There is a focus on improvements across three main areas: our students, our university and our community, as noted below.
- Improve Graduation Rates: We will strive to improve graduation rates for student-athletes to achieve UofL’s highest figures ever for federal graduation rates and NCAA Graduation Success Rates, surpassing national averages. Over the last 13 years, graduation rates for UofL student-athletes have risen 17 percent, improving from 48 percent for the freshman class who entered UofL in 1997-98 to a 65 percent graduation rate in the most recent 2009-10 figures released last year. UofL student-athletes achieved a record 83 percent graduation rate in the Graduation Success Rate (GSR) Report, which accounts for transfers into the university who graduate and those who leave in good academic standing. The Cardinals’ GSR, most recently reported for freshmen who entered in the 2009-10 academic year, has risen 17 percent since the reporting began 12 years ago.
- Increased Focus on Academics: We will expand programming and usage of the Thornton’s Academic Center of Excellence. Opened in August 2016, the over 40,000-square-foot center features tutorial areas, a high-performance training table to feed student-athletes, computer laboratories, and office and classroom space that serve over 750 student-athletes across the Cardinals’ 23 sports on a daily basis. Programmatic use and scheduling will include additional team meetings, NCAA Coaches Examinations, forums, orientation and graduation activities. Two new backdrops and an expanded video and audio system installed this year in the more than 200-seat auditorium will provide additional opportunities for large gatherings.
- Provide the Best Support For Student-Athletes: We will maximize the L-Care comprehensive student support system, providing programming that encourages enhancements academically, athletically and emotionally. From athletic trainers, nutritionists, sports performance coaches, physicians and nurses to learning specialists, counselors, psychologists, athletic department administrators, Louisville athletes will have the best available. Bar none.
- Ensure the Best Nutrition: We will enhance food and beverage benefits for student-athletes, with a focus on nutrition. Gatorade fueling stations have been installed in athletic training facilities at six locations and will be enhanced with satellite stations in other facilities to provide pre- and post-workout snacks, recovery beverages, shakes, vitamins, fruits, yogurt, jerky and smoothies made fresh by the Cardinals’ nutrition staff. By providing the optimal nutrition regimen for our student-athletes, they can perform at their best on the field and in the classroom.
- Attention to Injury Prevention: We will use advanced technology to provide injury prevention and maximize practice time. UofL has expanded its Performance Analytics Division with the use of over 100 devices that student-athletes wear during practice sessions to analyze data, particularly with the Cardinals’ Olympic field sports and women’s basketball team.
- Jobs for Graduates: We will strengthen student-athlete career services by collaborating with the University of Louisville campus career centers to operate the most successful joint job fair for current students and alumni of the university.
- Increased Opportunities for Women: We will expand UofL’s Women of Influence program that provides mentoring and networking opportunities for UofL female student-athletes with professional women in the Louisville community. Two events are planned for the fall. We will also continue to invest in gender equity programming and women’s sports to ensure that female athletes are provided optimal support.
- Increased student involvement with the NCAA: UofL’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee will increase its engagement with athletics staff regarding evaluation and feedback of new and proposed NCAA rules. Specifically, the NCAA’s new Time Management Plan regulations that are in place for the coming season will need valued input from the student-athletes they are meant to aid.
- Give Back To the City of Louisville: We will increase participation in community service and community engagement. UofL has ranked among the top five in the nation in the NCAA Team Works Challenge, which measures community service hours each of the last two years, including last year when Cardinal student-athletes amassed over 11,000 service hours through its CardsCARE community outreach program. This year, student-athletes will further develop their relationship with community partners through volunteering their time, specifically with Metro Parks Adapted Sports and Recreation, Norton Children’s Hospital and JCPS Elementary Schools in the Louie’s Fit Friends program.
- Close the “Coming Full Circle” Campaign: We will complete the state-of-the-art football expansion project by the opening game of the 2018 season. UofL’s “Coming Full Circle” expansion includes 10,000 new seats in the north end zone of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium with club seats, premium boxes, field level suites and mid-level and field-level clubs. This new design will provide the best “in the huddle” experience in college football and we cannot wait to share that excitement with our fans. The student-athlete will also have a best-in-class facility. The Schnellenberger football complex will add an additional 100,000 square feet of training and meeting space. Construction will continue throughout the upcoming football season.
- Continue to Provide Best-in-Class Facilities: In the last 20 years, athletics has made over $300M in capital improvements. In addition to the PJCS expansion, we will expand the volleyball arena and baseball stadium. We will complete a renovation of our volleyball home facility and prepare a strategy for a major baseball stadium expansion. UofL chose to move its volleyball matches back to campus and a renovation of Cardinal Arena will provide an enhanced home court with new seating and two new balconies to create an electrified home atmosphere. The Cardinals reached their fourth College World Series in the last 10 years last season. New and unique seating opportunities will be explored in the expansion project for Jim Patterson Stadium. UofL will introduce reserved chairback seating at Jim Patterson Stadium for the first time starting with the 2018 season, with season ticket options being offered soon. UofL is in the process of building a television control room and studio for the 2019 launch of the ACC Network.
- Listen To Our Fans: We will continue to be attentive to the needs of our fans. We have surveyed and gained their thoughts on how we can be better. This season, we are launching a new and improved fan-friendly app that will allow mobile ticket transfer with ease. Additionally, the CardsMobile app will provide direct access to UofL Athletics information, photos, videos, convenient ticketing options, event participation opportunities and other features (get it here for iOS or Android). This is just the first of many updates that will occur to ensure our fans are served at the highest level.
- Continue to Invest in our Institution: Athletics brings over $30M in tuition, room, board and books into the university annually for student-athletes and participants in athletics groups such as band and spirit. We will continue to be a conduit for growth for our faculty, staff and students. Many competing schools have tuition waivers, but we are committed to the future of this university.
- Leverage Our Partnerships: Since entering the ACC in 2014, UofL Athletics continues to focus on harnessing the value of its accomplishments by delivering those benefits to the university overall. Future partnerships and activation with adidas, Learfield and the ACC will be no different. It is our intention to bring the best to our athletes and trend-setting opportunities for our students and our faculty.
“Our ultimate goal is to be the preeminent program, the model of how things should be done. Here, we can go beyond greatness together to be better all the time, every time.” – Tom Jurich