Photo courtesy of Devon Thomas
Ladies and gentlemen, we finally know the way the winds are blowing in Louisville.
Vince Tyra has resigned his post as athletics director at Louisville (along with the president and seemingly everyone with a pulse.) The University of Louisville now finds itself in the hunt for a new head of the athletic department.
The department finds itself at the most important crossroads since the hiring of one, Tom Jurich.
A men’s basketball program with looming showdown with the NCAA, an outgoing athletics director, a current university president with an icy relationship with that athletics director, and a fan base divided between those two camps is the current state of the department.
For kicks and giggles, toss in a football program where most fans are underwhelmed with the current direction. Oh, and there is a very loud call for the ousting of head football coach Scott Satterfield for prodigal son Jeff Brohm of Purdue.
Tired and Worn Down
The fans and leadership at Louisville have taken beatings from every side for a half-decade now. Those beatings came from national and local media and the NCAA at the end of the Rick Pitino and second Bobby Petrino eras. Louisville fans are tired, weathered, and worn, but they are not broken.
This is a chance for Louisville to inject new energy into the fan base. It’s a chance to hire a hometown hero, a well-liked and experienced member of the college athletics world. It’s also a chance to bring home a master fundraiser for a department that has reportedly kept some of its biggest donors of the past at arm’s length for the last several years.
That man is Devon Thomas.
A Familiar Face
Thomas may be a familiar name to some Cardinals’ fans. He was a five-year defensive lineman for head football coach John L. Smith between 1998 and 2002. During his time as a player, Thomas helped Louisville win two Conference USA titles and a Liberty Bowl. He was also a senior on the team that defeated No. 4 Florida State in the famous “Rain Game” in 2002.
After completing his athletic career, Thomas began his administrative career at Louisville by helping to create many student-athlete outreach programs. From there, Thomas held roles in marketing at Idaho and as assistant athletics director at UCF.
After stints at both schools, Thomas then returned home for three years as an assistant athletic director under Jurich from 2009 to 2012. He moved from there to Washington State. As assistant athletic director in Pullman, he acted as one of the main and most successful fundraisers in the department.
From there, Thomas became the deputy athletic director at Eastern Washington to oversee athletic growth and fundraising. He is now a senior athletic director at Gonzaga.
Bring Him Home
Thomas is a Cardinal through and through. He could help to rebuild ties with many big-time donors who have stepped back the past few years. Thomas spent time under the well-liked Jurich, but was not there for the controversial end of the Jurich era. That helps to add shine to him as a candidate.
Given the current state of affairs, this fan base has to have someone in its corner. With the fan base needing to regain trust in a leadership that many feel has completely tossed aside its mantra of transparency, hiring Thomas helps to rebuild some of that goodwill.
This is not a hard decision. There is a experienced Cardinal just waiting to come home and help rebuild his alma mater.
Bring Devon Thomas home.