Rising senior Kyle Kuric is the leading returning scorer and fan favorite. The reward for his perseverance, hard work, great attitude, team play and excellence on the court was to have his scholarship pulled by Coach Rick Pitino, thereby reducing Kuric to Walk On status.
At a press conference, the coach attempted to provide a plausible justification. Kuric was originally recruited to be a Walk On. He and his family were told he might be asked to assume that status during his career. His parents are rich and can afford the tuition and other attendant costs. Etc, etc.
I’m not buying it.
The facts, as I understand them to be, are that Kuric was never a Walk On at U of L, and only committed to the school after being offered a scholly. To take it away, regardless of what Kuric and his family might have been told about that possibility, is, simply, wrong. Period.
A day after attempting to digest how Kuric has been “rewarded” for his contributions, I remain irate. I understand that the shibboleth of college coaches as mentors, makers of men, molders of leaders of the future, teachers of life’s lessons has long gone the way of the concept of amateurism. Yet, even in the modern era of team branding, how do we generate more income, what have you done for alma mammy today, pulling Kyle Kuric’s scholarship is an outrage.
That the school issued a statement attributed to Kuric, that he and family are happy to do it for the good of the team, in no way diminishes how very wrong this move is.
There is a Yiddish word, menschlichkeit, which describes the character shown by the Kuric family. A mensch, according to Leo Rosten, noted expert on the slang, is “someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. It is a display of “nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.”
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During the recent NCAA tournament, U S A Today published a list of this year’s tournament coaches and their salaries.
Perched atop the list is Rick Pitino, with a total salary for 2010-11 of — this is not a typo — $7,531,378. Of that, $6.1 million is university based. That figure does include a one time, lump sum bonus paid during that period of $3.6 million.
What did Coach Pitino do to earn that bonus? Simply stay on the job from April Fools day, 2007, through March 31, 2010. In other words, for doing what he was being paid $2.5 million/ year to do, for three whole years in a row, he was rewarded with an additional $1.2 million per year. That’s in addition to $1.4 million+, he gets annually from outside sources, but directly related to his position as U of L coach.
Duke’s Mike Krzyzweski, second highest paid on the list, earned $4.2 million. John Calipari made $3.9 million. Bill Self, Billy Donovan and Tom Izzo are the others whose salaries were above the $3.5 mill per year mark.
Near the bottom of the list, Morehead State Donnie Tyndall more than earned his $179,700.
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That same publication also has a database, containing the athletic budgets of most of the schools of the larger conferences, including the University of Louisville.
For the 2009-10 academic/ athletic year, U of L reports $63,487,395 in athletic revenues. Expenses appear as $61,257,743. Which leaves a surplus/ “profit” of $2,229,652.
Among the sources of revenue is $2,152,967 of “Direct Institutional Support.” Which, unless I’m otherwise advised, I will assume to mean a subsidy from the general budget of the university. And, which, unless I’m otherwise advised, I will assume was not paid back to the school, which if returned would still have left the athletic department with a little surplus.
Whether it was returned or not, here’s what I’m wondering? How would Rick Pitino have reacted if school prexy James Ramsey gave him a call and said something like this: “You know, Rick, we’re having trouble getting enough funding from the legislature. We’re cutting programs and personnel. The school really needs to find some other sources of revenue to stay competitive.
“So, Rick, I was wondering if you and the family could make do on just $3.7 million this year, and you could let the school use that $3.6 million bonus due you?
“No pressure, Rick, just asking. You know you’d still be left with more than most brain surgeons make in a year.”
– Seedy K