▪ Usually your average university board of trustees meeting is a ready-made snoozefest. Not Wednesday’s University of Louisville meeting, apparently.
According to those on hand, Papa John’s owner and founder John Schnatter had some tough things to say about the way Athletics Director Tom Jurich is doing business.
“We’re doing this by the skin of our teeth,” said Schnatter, according to Chris Otts of WDRB television in Louisville. “We’re getting to put $60 million in a stadium — by the way, it’s my stadium (Laughs) — and we’re $5 million over budget and we’ve got 10 days cash. This is crazy.”
Yes, that is Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Schnatter also said, “Until you fix athletics, you cannot fix this university. You have to fix the athletics first.”
Schnatter called U of L’s athletics leadership “invisible,” but then told WDRB, “I’m not picking a fight with Jurich.”
▪ Things have gone crazy at Memphis, where the last one transferring might want to turn out the lights. Six Tigers have announced their intentions to transfer from Coach Tubby Smith’s program. Included in the six are brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson who have already announced their intention of enrolling at Kansas.
Memphis AD Tom Bowen put out a statement backing Smith, who went 19-13 in his first season at the school. The Tigers fell apart down the stretch, losing six of their last seven games. Included in that was a 103-62 blowout at SMU and an 84-54 rout at the hands of Central Florida in the American Athletic Conference Tournament.
Bob Huggins went through a similar mass exodus at West Virginia a couple of years ago and rebounded nicely. Tubby fans hope Smith can do the same.
▪ Meanwhile, at Kentucky, the departures have more to do with the NBA Draft. The number of players year-by-year that have left the program early during John Calipari’s eight seasons as Kentucky’s head coach: six after 2009-10; three after 2010-11; five after 2011-12; four after 2012-13; two after 2013-14; seven after 2014-15; five after 2015-16; five after 2016-17. If you include this year’s five, that’s 37 players. There are 20 one-and-dones in that group, eight who entered the draft after their sophomore seasons, three who entered after their junior seasons and six transfers.
The number of this year’s early departures could be reduced to four if Bam Adebayo doesn’t like what he hears from NBA evaluators and returns for his sophomore season. Adebayo is the only possible departure from this past season’s team that has indicated he won’t sign with an agent.
▪ Ex-Western Hills and UK star J.T. Riddle made his major-league debut on Tuesday night, starting at shortstop for the Miami Marlins in their 8-4 win over the New York Mets. Riddle went 0-for-4 but could see serious time subbing for Adeiny Hechavarria, who is on the 10-day disabled list with an oblique strain.
▪ Last season, only the Colorado Rockies (5.13) had a worse bullpen ERA than the Cincinnati Reds (5.09). Through eight games this year, the Reds’ bullpen ERA of 1.31 is second only to the New York Yankees at 1.13. No wonder the Reds were 6-2 going into Wednesday night’s game at Pittsburgh.
Reds Manager Bryan Price is also using his bullpen differently. Monday night, when the Reds retired 21 straight Pirates in a 7-1 win, Michael Lorenzen and Cody Reed each worked three innings. Tuesday night, in a 6-2 win over Pittsburgh, Price used Raisel Iglesias for 1 2/3 innings to get the save.
▪ If you missed it, Oral Roberts has fired Scott Sutton after 18 years as head basketball coach. The son of former UK coach Eddie Sutton, Scott was 328-247 at the school but his teams were just 14-17 in 2015-16 and 8-22 this past season.
▪ Don’t count out McCraken, despite the favorite’s third-place finish in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes last Saturday. After missing the Tampa Bay Derby with a minor ankle injury, McCraken needed a race. He should be good to go for the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
▪ Maryland President Wallace Loh said North Carolina should get the death penalty for the allegations of academic fraud currently being investigated by the NCAA. North Carolina Coach Roy Williams responded by calling Loh “a double idiot.” Ah, the gentlemen of higher education.
▪ RIP Dorothy Mengering, better known as David Letterman’s mom, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 95. Without a doubt, she was the best Winter Olympics correspondent in the history of television. She raised a pretty funny son, as well.