Louisville Football to Play in "Cardinal Stadium"
The major news around town yesterday came during an impromptu press conference just after lunch, when new UofL President, Neeli Bendapudi, announced that the University of Louisville would be renaming former Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. The announcement showed that this move was not about attacking a company or making a rash decision, but that the University was committed to inclusion at the both the school and citywide level. There was no room for UofL to promote a name with such a toxic association. Additionally, Dr. Bendapudi made it clear that the company, Papa John's, is not to blame, and that the hundreds of thousands of employees should not be made to suffer for the comments of one man. He has been removed from his position at the company and his comments were not reflective of the company as a whole.
This article isn't to go on about the name change or the comments made by Schnatter (who, by the way, was supportive and understanding in the process of the name change). Instead, it is to talk about how Dr. Bendapudi has put herself on a path to changing the culture at UofL for the better. Coming into the UofL presidency took some guts, as this was not a good position in many people's minds. The controversies surrounding the athletic program, the financial management, and the state leadership made UofL look rough from the exterior. The University needed to hire someone that had the ability to make change and wasn't afraid to do so swiftly. They appear to have gotten that with Dr. Bendapudi.
The name change decision is not particularly groundbreaking. The student-athletes wanted it, many fans wanted it, and all eyes in the city, state, and beyond were watching this unfold intently. The change almost HAD to be made. Dr. Bendapudi not only made the right (only?) choice, but she did it quickly and decisively. There was no waiting around for meeting after meeting of superfluous discussion or hemming and hawing over the decision. She knew what needed to be done, chose to do it, and discussed it with those that mattered. She had the guts to tell John Schnatter about the decision herself, and then gave an empowered press conference about the issue. How refreshing is that after the last two years at UofL?
To undertake something so large when she hasn't even had her "inauguration" ceremony yet shows that Dr. Bendapudi is ready to bring UofL back to the heights it once enjoyed. Her support of the student-athletes on campus and commitment to diversity and inclusion will only bode well for the future of the University. While the name change doesn't affect any of the UofL women's sports directly, seeing how their new president handled this situation is sure to be uplifting to players and coaches alike. A president with the well-being of the University and Athletics alike on her agenda is what Cardinal fans and students have been hoping for since this whole saga began.
I was very excited when this hire was announced, and I'm only more excited about it now. For the first time in awhile, I feel very proud of my alma mater. I would never say that I was embarrassed for having graduated from the University of Louisville, but recent decisions definitely had me shaking my head. It feels like those days may be on their way out. Sure, this issue was set up on a tee for Dr. Bendapudi to knock out of the park, but the way she stepped up to the plate inspired confidence for how she will handle future issues as they arise. There is still a long way to go for UofL to get out of the mire in which they currently find themselves, but the leadership appears to be on the right track to doing so.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
We're all back in the studio this morning for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. There is sure to be further discussion on the name change and Dr. Bendapudi, as well as updates on the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports. We'll also have a wonderful quiz about who knows what. Be sure to tune in to WCHQ at 11AM with whatever means you like to listen to radio. The station broadcasts to LPFM on 100.9 but is also available online at wchqfm.com, the WCHQ App, and you can watch on Facebook Live on the WCHQ FM Facebook page.
Until next time, Go Cards!