That appears to be the situation with many regarding the recent lawsuit filed against Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino and the University of Louisville Athletics Association by Ryan Holifield, a former Cardinal walk-on.
However, to quote former Louisville head coach Lee Corso, "not so fast my friend!" Some things may not be as they seem.
During his recruitment by U of L, Holifield was offered an opportunity to join the Cardinals football program as a walk-on. As is the case with all walk-ons, an opportunity to earn a scholarship exists during his time on the team. The lawsuit filed claims that a scholarship was promised to Holifield following his initial season at U of L and that Coach Petrino, by not extending one with the start of the new school year, broke his promise and was in breach of contract.
The process of walk-on athletes earning scholarships at the University of Louisville isn't any different than it is at the majority of institutions throughout the country. It's simple in fact. As the player improves on the field of play, eventually earning playing time, a scholarship is extended.
Since December of 2002, when Coach Petrino was hired to become the Cardinals Head Coach, four walk-ons have earned a scholarship. Receiver Robert Haskins, fullback D.J. Kamer, tight end Adam McCauley and linebacker Jon Cardoza all earned scholarships last fall.
Prior to the 2003 GMAC Bowl, when U of L Offensive Line Coach Mike Summers visited with Ryan and his family, he indicated that the program would not be able to extend a scholarship during this recruiting season. The reason given was due to Louisville's pending move into the Big East Conference and a change in the direction of recruiting. He was informed that his scholarship was needed to help attract the players needed to make the move effectively.
In a following meeting with Coach Summers, Holifield was invited to remain with the program and an opportunity to earn a scholarship the following season still remained.
Holifield declined that opportunity and chose to transfer from the University of Louisville and has since accepted an invitation to join the Middle Tennessee State football program. In addition to making the decision to transfer, a number of media outlets, including the Courier-Journal, were contacted by Ryan's father, Mark Holifield, and informed of upcoming ‘big news.' ITV has also learned that it was indicated the soon to be released news would be done in part to injure the Cardinals recruiting efforts and expected it be released on or near the same time that recent commit Brian Brohm would be announcing his college decision.
However, as U of L learned of the pending ‘big news' and contacted Mark Holifield to inquire of what it might concern, his response was short and to the point… ‘it'll be in the paper.' To the knowledge of Inside the Ville, U of L learned of the now pending lawsuit just a couple hours prior to Brian Brohm announcing his decision to play for the University of Louisville.
Additionally, it has been stated that Coach Petrino would not release practice video of Holifield to programs interested in having him transfer to their institution. Had U of L released such practice video, it might as well have included the playbooks as well. There is no individual practice video, so releasing the video would allow opposing programs to observe the entire procedures, including plays, done during Cardinal football practices.
Stating that U of L wouldn't provide practice video gives the impression that Coach Petrino and staff would not lend a hand in helping Holifield's transfer intentions, which again, is untrue. ITV has also learned that Coach Summers, Holifield's position coach at U of L, contacted a number of school's regarding the player's abilities and good work ethic in an attempt to improve his transfer opportunities.
While it is unfortunate that Holifield felt the need to transfer to better his opportunity, it is equally unfortunate, or even more so, that such a lawsuit was filed against the University of Louisville and its head football coach.