Crack legal research tells us that about 95% of all civil cases settle sometime prior to trial.  For some, it occurs during meditation, for others, it may occur on the courthouse steps.  It can also occur anywhere in between.  If the University of Louisville and Tom Jurich case is going to join the ranks of that 95%, there is a lot of work to be done.

For the most part, I refrain from being overly critical in public matters of law and policy.  There is a good reason for that; there is always more than one side to a story, and I am usually quite certain that there is an explanation which justifies a parties’ actions.  This is why the vast majority of my answers on Twitter, Podcasts, or TV and radio spots are fairly vanilla.  I want to give people the benefit of the doubt.  In part, I want to do it because I would want that too, and I also do it because I think that my opinion may just be one of many, so what gives me the right?  After this week, on this topic, I am changing my position.

There is no justifiable reason to engage in the tactics employed this week by the University of Louisville in their continued mishandling of the Tom Jurich employment fiasco.  None.  To be clear, it IS the University of Louisville who is responsible for this latest run at a man who has arguably single-handedly changed the landscape of our city, and certainly their university.  It is their responsibility for the same reason that it was Rick Pitino’s responsibility to know what Andre McGee was doing. It is their responsibility for the same reason that it was Rick and Tom’s responsibility to know what Jordan Fair was doing, and for failing to adequately monitor their subordinates.  It’s a sharp knife, isn’t it?

If in one instance the University of Louisville wishes to excoriate Tom Jurich, and to a degree, Rick Pitino for actions of their subordinates, then why should Postel, Grissom, or anyone else in the chain of command at U of L be free from condemnation for this gaffe?  Surely we cannot be expected to buy the idea that these university officials were not informed of the tactics being used by their lawyers.  That’s like saying that an AD must have known about what an assistant coach was up to in a secret meeting in a Vegas hotel room.  The parallels between the conduct of the subordinates and the responsibility of the superiors are almost too good to not be fiction.  Put another way, you simply can’t make this shit up.

So, I don’t buy that U of L gets a pass on the handling of the PI portion of this case.  I also don’t buy the notion that SKO did anything other than what they were either instructed to do, or encouraged to do. I damned sure don’t buy the story that transferring the Jurich/Pitino litigation to another firm in town is not worthy of “dot connecting.”  How stupid does the University think that the general public is?

Here’s the thing, litigation isn’t overly complex.  Breach of contract cases certainly aren’t overly complex.  Jurors are citizens of the community, hell,  take your dumbest 12 Twitter followers, or the first twelve people you bump into at the grocery; they will be expected to hear this case and make a ruling.  To act, as the school has done, like “there is nothing to see here,” with their handling of this matter is simply either ignorance or arrogance.  There is no middle ground.  Additionally, neither of these options is good long term, or short, for the school.  It is time that someone, somewhere, demands that the leadership of this University begin acting in its own best interest.  The ego trip that the men involved in this sordid affair are on is repulsive.  It is irresponsible, and ultimately, it costs the university.  If there is concern about donations and financial shortcomings at U of L, don’t expect the schools latest display of leadership and conduct to do anything to rectify the situation.

Even with all of this being said, there is time to correct this.  There are conversations to be had, negotiations to undertake, and resolutions that can be reached.  Hopefully, the new litigation team will have a better opportunity to convince their client the advantages of a settlement.  If the leadership at U of L doesn’t change their attitude towards the handling of this matter, the changing of attorneys won’t make a bit of difference.  You can put Pat Day on a donkey, his ass ain’t winning the Kentucky Derby.

As I close, if you are curious about why I have no criticism for Jurich in this matter, there is a simple answer.  No, I am not a Jurich apologist.  I’ve met him once.  The reason there are no arrows to shoot Tom’s way in this matter is simple.  His team is handling this the correct way; privately, and with class.  If all the parties involved would take this approach the case would stand a chance at joining the 95% of cases that settle.  There is a lot of work to be done before I can envision that though.





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Keith Poynter

Keith Poynter graduated from the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law in May of 2011. While in law school, Keith studied Sports Law as well as other core curriculum. Prior to becoming an attorney, Keith worked in the insurance industry for 6 years, and was a police officer in both Kentucky and Tennessee for 6 years. As an avid sports fan, former basketball official and current youth sports coach, Keith is heavily involved in sports when not at work or with his family at the lake. Keith's diverse background makes him an excellent source for legal opinion about issues surrounding the sporting world. Whether the matter be criminal or contractual, Keith's unique experience and education allows him to offer insight that may be missed by the casual fan. Keith is available for commentary on any legal issues that may arise in the Kentuckiana area and will routinely post articles concerning local and national sports law topics.

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