Louisville promotes Tyra to permanent athletic director

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville has filled one opening, naming Vince Tyra its permanent athletic director and removing the interim tag from his title.

Tyra can now proceed with his first major move: hiring a full-time men’s basketball coach.

He was unanimously approved Monday as the third AD Louisville has had the past 38 years after a series of meetings by the University of Louisville Athletic Association and its Board of Trustees. He was named last fall to temporarily replace longtime AD Tom Jurich after the school placed him on paid administrative in the wake of Louisville’s acknowledged involvement in a federal corruption investigation of college basketball . Jurich was fired on Oct. 18 after nearly 20 years in charge.

Though Tyra played baseball at archrival Kentucky, his roots are with Louisville.

”As I’ve said before, we were raised as Cardinals and were U of L fans our whole childhood,” said Tyra, the son of former Cardinals basketball great Charlie Tyra. ”I couldn’t be happier to try and lead this process for the university.”

Louisville interim President Greg Postel said in a news conference the school was ”looking for a best fit, and at the end of the day Vince Tyra emerged as the strongest candidate.”

Postel said a search committee looked at 50 candidates from Power 5 conferences and other prominent schools before reducing the list. The school ultimately chose the man who was already in charge.

Tyra received a five-year-contract worth $850,000 annually plus bonuses and now moves forward with finding a coaching replacement for David Padgett, who went 22-14 last season on an interim basis. Padgett had taken over for Rick Pitino, who was fired for cause in October.

Tyra’s promotion fills a necessary vacancy in Louisville’s administration in the process to find the Cardinals’ next coach. Hired during the immediate fallout of the federal investigation, he has handled that incident along with other tasks such as the school’s appeal of NCAA sanctions resulting from an escort scandal. Tyra has also overseen the final steps of a $63 million expansion of the school’s football stadium.

”It really came for me at a perfect time in my life, personally and professionally,” Tyra said. ”The opportunity was here and I was happy to jump in and help, not knowing how long it would be. I’m in my third title in six months but in the same role, but happy that we’ve been able to make a lot of progress and people have adapted to my leadership.”

As for the federal probe, Tyra said, ”there’s no update, and I’m not looking for one anytime soon.”

Tyra’s immediate task is finding someone to guide the cornerstone basketball program back to prominence after its latest dark chapter. Chris Mack’s name has surfaced as possible candidate. In nine seasons at Xavier, the 48-year-old coach has led the Musketeers to eight NCAA Tournament appearances and one trip to the Elite Eight.

Hours after Louisville parted ways last Wednesday with Padgett, a former Cardinals player and assistant under Pitino, Tyra stated that the school planned to hire a top-tier coach to run what he considered an elite program.

”The near-term need is to resolve that situation,” Tyra said of the opening he hopes to fill by this weekend’s men’s Final Four in San Antonio, Texas. ”We’ve got three positions that have been sitting idle at the university, the AD, the basketball coach and the president. And we’re going to resolve two of those this week.”

He did not elaborate on potential candidates and added, ”Today is less about that, but we’re on the right track.”

While he continues his search – or firms up a potential candidate, Tyra will take time to watch Louisville’s women’s basketball team play in this weekend’s Final Four in Columbus, Ohio.

For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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