Jurich says conference situation 'fluid'

Monday night, Big East officials voted to increase the league's exit fee if new members are added. Tuesday, after announcing Charlie Strong's contract extension, Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said that move wouldn't be an "obstacle" for the Cardinals.

The University of Louisville Athletics Association announced a two-year contract extension for head football coach Charlie Strong Tuesday that will keep him at UofL until 2018.

The decision, said Athletic Director Tom Jurich, is all about returning stability to a football program that lacked it for three years under the previous coaching regime.

"We really want to build stability and consistency in our program as we go forward," Jurich said. "I think Charlie has been a fabulous leader and tremendous ambassador for this university and city. We feel like we have the right coach to lead us into the future."

Though Louisville has struggled this season to a 2-4 record, Strong has shown Jurich and UofL officials that he has the program headed on the right track.

In his first season, Strong guided Louisville to its first bowl appearance in four years, beating Southern Mississippi in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl. This season, Strong's team beat rival Kentucky for the first time since 2006. Strong has also recruited extremely well, landing a Top 25 recruiting class last year.

Off the field, Strong's players have made significant progress in the classroom, as 40 players achieved 3.0 GPA's or higher last spring.

"He's very committed to turning this program into a great winner," Jurich said. "He's already worked so hard to change the culture of this program. As I told him when I hired him…I hired him to build a program. I told him not to focus on the team right now. We have a long haul and we know it, but we can certainly see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Strong, locked up for the next several seasons, could be the coach to guide Louisville from the Big East into the Big 12.

Following the ULAA board meeting, Jurich was asked by reporters in the basement of Grawmeyer Hall on the UofL campus to provide the latest on conference realignment from UofL's perspective.

"We're in the Big East," Jurich said.

Does Jurich expect that to the case in the future?

"That will just have to play out," Jurich responded. "We want to do the best we can and enjoy the present we have right now. The Big East has been very good for us and a very good home for us."

Jurich described Louisville's conference status as "fluid." That's because the Cardinals are viewed as the leading candidate to replace Missouri in the Big 12 if the Tigers bolt for the SEC, which they are expected to do later this week.

"We have to be fluid," said Jurich. "You hear all the same things we hear. We've worked hard the last 14 years to build this into something special. We want to make sure that we prosper."

Monday night, Big East presidents voted unanimously to increase the league's departure fee from $5 million to $10 million, contingent on the addition of Navy and Air Force.

"It's something we've all looked at very hard," Jurich said. "The league is trying to create a stable situation because they were blindsided. I think this is one way they can show stability to the other schools that they're out trying to recruit right now. I think that was their main objective."

Though the Big East is trying to increase the league's exit fee, Jurich doesn't think such a move would restrict Louisville from exploring an opportunity to join the Big 12 in the future.

"Any time you add on to something like that it does restrict you, but it's not going to change our minds any way we look at it," Jurich said. "We're always going to do the best we can for the athletic department and we'll figure out the best means for us to handle this thing with. But from our standpoint we don't look at this as any kind of an obstacle."

Jurich was also asked if Louisville has entered into discussions with the Big 12. "Our focus is on the Big East," Jurich responded. "What we do we'll keep private right now."

In other news:

Jurich reported that construction on the new soccer stadium is progressing and the university has narrowed its focus to three spots to construct the stadium.

Jurich also said the NCAA has not approached Louisville about talking to assistant coach Clint Hurtt regarding his alleged involvement in recruiting violations at Miami.

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