There have been a number of articles, blog posts and radio interviews in the past week concerning the University of Louisville’s Men’s Basketball scandal dealing with the book “Breaking Cardinal Rules” by Katina Powell and Dick Cady. National journalists have weighed in with everything from confidential source stories about NCAA investigations, to proposed punishments for the school, and finally to how, and when, Rick Pitino’s tenure should end. Michael Rosenberg from Sports Illustrated was not the first to take up the cause, but his argument appears to be the most off base.
In his article, “Louisville Created and Continues to Nurture Dangerous Culture for Women” Rosenberg cites the obvious. There is an investigation on-going concerning whether or not strippers, prostitutes, etc., were used to lure recruits to the U of L men’s basketball program. He cites Pitino’s indiscretion with Karen Sypher, and Bobby Petrino’s demise while at Arkansas as exhibits A and B in his argument against the school. These are both fair game. They were part of the risk/baggage that Tom Jurich accepted when he kept Pitino, and re-hired Petrino. If Rosenberg stopped there, fine. It is lazy journalism and cliche’d, but fine. Instead, Rosenberg took his investigation one step further and contacted Kathy Redmond Brown, Founder of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes. Redmond Brown re-told stories of her one day visit to the university in 2006 when she was called to speak about the athletic culture and violence against women. Apparently, she was not well received. Redmond Brown recalled snickers, and outbursts, she then alleged that there was a sense that people wanted to speak up and never did. The other thing that she noticed was that she was not asked back.
Having attended the University of Louisville for both undergrad and law school, I have a unique perspective that Redmond Brown, and Rosenberg don’t have. Namely, I was there for more than one day. I also had classes with basketball players from the men’s and women’s team, as well as members of the football team, the volleyball team and the tennis team. As a non-traditional student, I saw these athletes for what they were; kids. What I didn’t see was any “culture” of violence, degradation, or insult. It was never cool to make fun, or be sexist. There weren’t stripper jokes, hooker jokes, sex jokes or any other crude issues that would lend credence to Redmond Brown’s account of the University of Louisville. But I am a fan. As a fan, I know that I may wear red tinted glasses. With that in mind, I decided to seek the opinion of an outsider who has knowledge. I reached out to Kristi Dosh. (@SportsBizMiss)
Kristi Dosh is a lawyer and an author. She has penned the book “Saturday Millionaires – How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges” and she speaks at campuses across the nation on a wide variety of topics related to sports and business. Recently, Dosh was in Louisville for one such occasion speaking with the University of Louisville, Sports Administration majors. It was not her first visit. To say that Dosh has not had the same reception as Redmond Brown would be an understatement.
Kristi Dosh recalled that Tom Jurich was the first A.D. she ever interviewed. She was nervous, and didn’t know what she was doing, and he was perfectly fine with that. Jurich talked about why he took the job at U of L, and it was this story that stuck out the most with Dosh. “He told me about the tour he and his wife had taken on campus. There had been some Title IX issues and he was in a women’s locker room. In it, there were only two or three working shower heads, and the place was a mess. His wife pulled him aside and said why are we here?” The reason, he went on to share with Dosh, was because he wanted to change that for the women of the University of Louisville; and so he has. Dosh noted that Jurich had two little girls when he was hired as the A.D. at U of L. Both have graduated from U of L, and both were student athletes. “If there was a culture of violence against women, I don’t think Tom would have had his daughters there.”
There is more you should know about the interactions between Dosh and the University of Louisville athletic program. “I have been there four times, and I’m going back in the Spring. I have never had a negative experience, and I have never been treated unprofessionally by anyone there.” Both she, and her husband, who is in the sports journalism business as well, have attended games at U of L, neutral site games, and campus tours. While not familiar with the inner workings of the men’s basketball program, she highly doubts that any “culture against women” is present in the athletic department as a whole. “I have been to places where, as a woman, I wasn’t treated well. I know what that is like. It was never my experience while dealing with anyone from U of L.”
So, on one hand we have a story from Sports Illustrated, defending women and championing their cause. (While selling copious copies of their Swimsuit Issue.) Their story is propped up by a woman who spoke on campus once nearly ten years ago. On the other hand, you have Tom Jurich’s reputation as an architect of the University of Louisville athletic department. His credentials are well known, and his vision for the advancement of women’s athletics are unimpeachable. His story is bolstered by a nationally known female author who travels the country speaking to universities and their athletes. His story is bolstered by his daughters who played there and his son who works there. There is ample evidence in the case of Tom Jurich’s athletic department. Who do you believe?
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