Crum Finally Faces Music


When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now. Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greeting, bottle of wine?

No, but sometimes they’ll cut you a check.

Denny Crum turned 64 on Friday and, with administrators leading him by the elbow, gingerly stepped down as Louisville coach after 30 years.

Defiant until days ago, when he shook his fist and vowed things would be different once “the real truth is known,” he quickly shifted into Al Gore-esque concession mode.


“I’m going because I want to,” an emotional Crum said at his news conference.

We read this as: I’d rather stay, but please make the check payable to D. Crum.

It could have been worse. The sordid story of Crum and Athletic Director Tom Jurich might have caught the eye of a “Jerry Springer” producer.

Tomorrow’s show: Athletic directors and the coaches who hate them.

Crum-Jurich had all the civility of a spitball fight, but what’s done is done.

Crum is leaving, effective the end of this season, and Jurich can move toward hiring a successor.

Louisville tried to put a positive spin on Friday’s “retirement” announcement, but you know the parting didn’t go smoothly when the going-away press packet includes a “background statement” which reads in part:

“The president, athletics director and coach regret the public tone of recent days and agree that the primary goal is to move forward. They invite friends and fans of the university to join them.”

Crum knew he was up against it at midseason, when Jurich said publicly he couldn’t guarantee Crum would be back next year.

The rest has been bickering, posturing and legal wrangling.

Crum, who had two years left on his contract, was due a buyout of $2 million if his employment ended before June 30, but reports are Crum received much more than that to walk away.


There is no denying Crum leaves as one of the game’s all-time great coaches.

He won two national titles and 674 games, 14th on the career list, and is the only active coach in basketball’s Hall of Fame.

He did more for Louisville athletics than any man who walked through the door, but he has not done it lately.

Crum’s career can be divided into two 15-season parcels. The first 15 produced two national titles and six Final Four appearances. The last 15 seasons produced two NCAA probations, three losing records since 1990 and NCAA tournament first-round exits in 1995, 1999 and 2000.

Louisville is 11-18 this seasons and 61-61 over the last four.

You think Steve Lavin lasts long enough to go 61-61?

Crum must have lost his coaching fastball, or else he wouldn’t be in this fix.

The problem was he kept scheduling like he had Darrell Griffith and it was 1980, when in fact Louisville’s talent base dried up years ago.

It was time for Crum to go and time for Jurich to say so, but the execution left much to be desired.

“It should have never happened like this,” former Louisville player Junior Bridgeman was quoted as saying in one wire report.


Jurich and Crum were both stubborn until the end.

They had a Jan. 25 meeting that reportedly was louder than an episode of “Hardball.”

Last week, internal memos between Crum and Jurich were leaked to an alternative paper in Louisville.

Jurich to Crum: “The thing that is hurting our recruiting is not Tom Jurich, but the performance of our program. . . . To be continually attacked by you for lack of support is appalling.”

Crum to Jurich: “Many of my colleagues have told me that they cannot believe that I have been treated like I have. If they had accomplished one-half of what I have done here, they would be heroes at their school.”

Where does Louisville basketball turn now?

The hot rumor is that Jurich will go after Iowa State Coach Larry Eustachy, a high-energy man who doesn’t mind driving 10 hours to away games.

And, of course, there is Rick Pitino. His wife, Joanne, visited Las Vegas this week to check out schools, but Pitino has publicly denied a deal is imminent to take over at Nevada Las Vegas.

As for Crum, it was a great ride. The former UCLA player and assistant coach broke away from John Wooden’s staff and carved out a career he could not have imagined possible.


The lingering question in L.A. will always be how and why Crum never became Wooden’s logical successor in 1975.

Crum says he was happy in Louisville and turned down the chance, but insiders know it had more to do with Crum’s relationship with another athletic director: J.D. Morgan.

The handoff from Wooden-to-Crum might have kept a basketball dynasty flowing, but it was probably best in the end that Crum slipped the wizard’s shadow and made his name elsewhere.

The good news is Crum will get to coach his last game at home as Louisville is hosting next week’s Conference USA tournament.

Thirty seasons. Same school. One last round of applause.

There are some things a buyout can’t buy.


Crum’s Record

Louisville Coach Denny Crum will resign effective at the end of the season. His record, with at least two games remaining:

Year: W-L

1971-72: 26-5

1972-73: 23-7

1973-74: 21-7

1974-75: 28-3

1975-76: 20-8

1976-77: 21-7

1977-78: 23-7

1978-79: 24-8

1979-80: 33-3

1980-81: 21-9

1981-82: 23-10

1982-83: 32-4

1983-84: 24-11

1984-85: 19-18

1985-86: 32-7

1986-87: 18-14

1987-88: 24-11

1988-89: 24-9

1989-90: 27-8

1990-91: 14-16

1991-92: 19-11

1992-93: 22-9

1993-94: 28-6

1994-95: 19-14

1995-96: 22-12

1996-97: 26-9

1997-98: 12-20

1998-99: 19-11

1999-00: 19-12

2000-01: 11-18

Totals : 674-294


* Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on May 9, 1994.

* Coached two NCAA championship teams (1980, 1986).

* Coached six Final Four teams (1972, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986).

* Tied for fourth all-time with 23 NCAA tournament appearances, including 20 during the last 25 years.


* Won 12 Metro Conference regular-season championships and 11 Metro tournament titles in the 19 seasons the conference awarded championships.

* Ranks 14th on Division I all-time victory list with 674.

* Reached 20-plus victories in 21 of 30 seasons.

* Became the second-fastest coach to reach 600 victories, reaching that mark in the 14th game of his 26th season (Jerry Tarkanian was fastest, with 600th victory in the first game of 24th season).

* Milestones: First victory, 116-58 over Bellarmine, Dec 1, 1971; 100th victory, 78-59 over Murray State, December 6, 1975; 200th victory, 76-63 over Marquette, Jan. 20, 1980; 300th victory, 89-71 over Hawaii-Pacific, December 28, 1983; 400th victory, 68-53 over South Carolina, Feb. 3, 1988; 500th victory, 98-75 over South Florida, Jan. 7, 1993; 600th victory, 60-56 over Georgia Tech, Jan. 11, 1997.

* Coached 28 who played in the NBA.