“I’d like to think we’ve had accomplishments on several fronts. Getting our organization internally set, we’ve had a number of head coaching hires, that’s probably a career’s worth for most ADs, we’ve had nine. Everybody uses the word culture a lot, but that was something from day one that we took a stance on.” -Vince Tyra
Vince Tyra is nearing two years as Athletic Director at Louisville. Before his title was official, he spent time as the Acting AD and the Interim AD, coming in at a time when the department had to decide who they were going to be from that point forward.
“We had some issues here from the NCAA and had to mitigate those from ever occurring again. We had to take a stance on who we were going to recruit and hire and look at how we would shape our culture.”
Tyra tells CollegeAD that one of his first acts at AD was to reset some responsibility internally, taking into account a mix of new faces and legacy faces.
“We really had to take some time and look at who we wanted to be. We looked at our own goals and values and what they were going to represent. Now when we make a significant decision as a department, we reference those goals and values.”
Tyra, a Louisville native with strong business credentials, served as an operating partner since 2007 for Southfield Capital, a Greenwich, Conn. based private equity firm that invests in lower middle-market companies. He says he is particularly proud that his department has been able to work with the business school on ethical training.
“I personally funded the start of an Ethical Leadership Excellence Program in the business school and that’s taken off quite nicely. We used some of the staff in the business school to help us develop these goals and values and help our team get better.”
He says UofL Athletics was in a “tough spot” when he first came on board because of what occurred in the Men’s Basketball Program. Tyra says he wanted to see the program move to the top of the ladder on compliance and running a clean program.
“One of the things we could do was to lean on the talent we had on campus. My thought was to donate $100,000 to the Business School so we could create a program. What I realized was our leadership here, as in most athletic departments, is pretty young. They had not had in-depth professional training, so I wanted to develop something here and we could be the guinea pigs for the program.”
Tyra has also monitored UofL’s ongoing capital projects, including a Cardinal Stadium expansion completed in August 2018, as well as constructing and outfitting a broadcast center on campus in advance of the launch of the ACC Network in August 2019.
“We spent $65 Million on the stadium expansion which availed us of more space for football operations, which was the primary goal. We have a much larger player’s lounge, a strength and conditioning area, coaches’ offices, and meeting spaces. Plus, we launched the ACC Network in a big way, we’ve tried to take a leadership position in the conference on that front.”
He also says they’ve managed to get a new facility for men’s and women’s golf, that’s about two-thirds complete. Volleyball has a new area with naming rights and extensive renovations to the softball complex and baseball completed a new pro-locker room in the spring.
“We brought in Populous to do a full assessment of all our athletic facilities so that we could see where is the maintenance that’s been overlooked, in parallel to looking at new growth and renovation opportunities to give new life to current facilities.”
He says the process with Populous will be wrapping up at the end of the year. He plans to take the recommendations to the coaches then the board to layout a list of priorities for what comes next.
“Having that kind of plan really helps with fundraising. We’ve done a good job with that overall. Last year was a record year in fundraising.”
Vince Tyra says they started the fundraising process, called “The Next Step Fund,” without the capitol projects being laid out, but they’ve had great momentum.
“That’s let us knock off some of the projects I mentioned and then to start thinking ahead. We’ve tried to create some corporate sponsorships along the way along with some individuals who’ve been kind enough to donate to our initiatives here. The community support has been great.”