Following a nationwide search, the University of Louisville Board of Trustees on Monday approved the appointment of Vincent Tyra as UofL’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics and athletics director.
On Wednesday, the board approved the hiring of Chris Mack as head coach of the UofL men’s basketball team.
The UofL board approved a five-year agreement with Tyra (pronounced TIE-ray) at a special meeting March 26 following recommendations from a university-wide search committee and the UofL Athletics Association Board of Directors.
Tyra has served as interim athletics director since Oct. 3, 2017.
A Louisville native with strong business and athletics credentials, Tyra has been highly active since assuming his interim position, using his business acumen, passion for Cardinal Athletics and background in athletics to lead UofL during a period of transition.
“We are convinced that Vince Tyra is the right fit to lead the UofL athletics program,” said UofL’s Interim President Greg Postel, MD. “He has provided strong leadership while continuing to move the Cardinals forward in all sports, building upon the legacy of previous athletics successes and taking the time to personally reach out to the UofL fan base and donors as much as possible. The feedback we received from donors, community members, employees, athletes, the ACC and colleagues throughout the country has been extremely positive.”
While in his interim capacity, Tyra has taken steps to stabilize the future of the Cardinals by extending the contracts for key UofL coaches and making moves to efficiently restructure the administrative and support staff, with an emphasis on enhancing the student-athlete experience. He has monitored UofL’s ongoing capital projects, including the Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium expansion to be completed in late summer and outfitting of a broadcast center on campus in advance of the launch of the ACC Network in August 2019.
Tyra is just the third athletics director for the Cardinals in the last 38 years, following Tom Jurich (1997-2017) and Bill Olsen (1980-1997).
“It’s an honor to take the reins of such an outstanding athletics program with its rich tradition of success,” Tyra said. “I look forward to continuing to work with our coaches and staff to put an outstanding product on the field while ensuring the success of our student athletes and representing UofL in a manner that will make the entire university family proud.”
Jed Hughes, vice chairman of Korn Ferry, the Los Angeles-based search firm selected to lead the search for UofL’s permanent AD, said Vince Tyra is perfectly suited to step into the
“I have recruited a lot of executives, and Vince Tyra is at the top of the food chain among executives in college or pro sports. His experiences transfer well to the athletic director’s role. He’s an elite business builder, he understands the value of his stakeholders, he truly values the university, he has a passion for supporting student athletes, and he has shown a unique ability to change and improve cultures. In two or three years, he’s going to be one of the best athletic directors in America,” Hughes said.
“When we began this search, we interviewed him and thought ‘Wow, the bar is high.’ We knew it was going to be tough to find candidates with his qualities. When we talked to representatives within the conference and at the NCAA, we found they felt the same way.”
Oliver Luck, EVP for Regulatory Affairs at the NCAA, called announcement “great news.”
“Vince has done an absolutely remarkable job in the most difficult of circumstances. He’s a former student-athlete with exceptional business experience,” Luck said. “I think the athletic department is in great hands with Vince.”
Chris Mack, whose teams have participated in the NCAA Tournament in eight of his nine seasons as a head coach, has been selected as the head coach of the University of Louisville men’s basketball team.
In nine seasons as the head coach at Xavier, Mack guided the Musketeers to a 215-97 record and eight NCAA Tournament appearances (the last five straight years), including reaching the Sweet 16 on four occasions and the Elite Eight in 2017. His teams won or shared three conference regular season championships while compiling a 105-49 league record over nine seasons in the Big East and Atlantic 10.
Among active coaches, Mack’s .689 winning percentage as a head coach ranks him 19th in the nation and his 215 victories are tied for the 11th most amassed by a coach in their first nine seasons.
His most recent 2017-18 squad achieved a 29-6 record, won Xavier’s first Big East Conference regular season championship and earned the school’s first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Mack was honored as the 2018 Big East Coach of the Year, NABC District 5 Coach of the Year, and he became the all-time coaching wins leader with the Musketeers. Xavier finished third in the final Associated Press poll – its highest ever ranking — and this year’s team was one short of the school record for victories.
Mack’s contract with the Cardinals will be for seven years, extending through the 2024-25 season. He will be just the fourth head coach to guide the Cardinals in the last 48 years, following Denny Crum (1971-2001), Rick Pitino (2001-17) and David Padgett (2017-18). Mack is the 21st head coach in Louisville’s 104-year history and the seventh in the past 73 years.
Mack, 48, received the 2016 Henry Iba Award as the U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Coach of the Year while also earning the CBS Sports and Basketball Times magazine National Coach of the Year awards that season. He led Xavier to a 28-6 record in 2015-16 and achieved a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a No. 5 ranking in the final AP poll, which at the time was the school’s highest seed and ranking in school history.
His 2016-17 Xavier team made an NCAA Tournament run to the Elite Eight after entering the event as a No. 11 seed. His teams have reached the NCAA Sweet 16 on four occasions, in 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2017. As a player, assistant and head coach, Mack has been a part of 19 NCAA Tournament appearances.
Vince Tyra’s resume
Prior to his appointment at UofL, Tyra served as an operating partner since 2007 for Southfield Capital, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based private equity firm that invests in lower-middle market companies. In his role there, Tyra served as chairman of the board of many investments, including Hallcon Corp, RCR International, Total Fleet Solutions, Dealer Financial Services, and BioPharm Communications. Tyra most recently served as chairman of the board and interim Chief Executive Officer of Elite Medical, a company based in Clearwater, Florida.
Tyra operated as a corporate advisor from 2013-16 for ISCO Industries, a privately held piping supply company based in Louisville. He also formerly served as the president of Retail and Activewear for Fruit of the Loom in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Tyra has served as a member of the University of Louisville Foundation Board of Directors and chaired the organization’s Finance Committee. He joined the board in February 2017, but stepped down from the position after his appointment with Cardinal Athletics. He has served on the board of Industrial Services of America, a Louisville-based scrap metal recycling company.
A standout athlete, Tyra graduated from Trinity High School in Louisville in 1984 as the state’s top baseball prospect and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame. He was a four-year baseball letterman (1985-88) and two-time team captain at the University of Kentucky, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health administration in 1988. He started 37 career games as a pitcher, tied for 14th all time at UK.
A long-time supporter of UofL Athletics, Tyra is the son of Charlie Tyra, a consensus All-America at UofL who led the Cardinals to the 1956 National Invitation Tournament Championship. Charlie Tyra is one of four players, along with Wes Unseld, Darrell Griffith and Pervis Ellison, whose jersey numbers have been retired at UofL.
Tyra and his wife Lori have five children: Sydney, Audrey, Olivia, Spencer and Cooper.
Chris Mack’s resume
Born Dec. 30, 1969 in Cleveland, Ohio, Mack was the 2010-11 Atlantic 10 Conference Coach of the Year in his second year as a head coach. In addition, he was the recipient of the 2011 Skip Prosser Man of the Year award, which was established in 2008 to honor those who not only achieve success on the basketball court but who display moral integrity off the court as well.
He was the 2009-10 Basketball Times Rookie Coach of the Year when, in his initial year, he guided Xavier to a 26-9 record, shared the Atlantic 10 Championship and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16.
Mack served as a court coach for the 2016 USA Basketball Men’s U18 National Team training camp in the summer of 2016 at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Before rising to a head coaching position, Mack was a part of successful staffs throughout his career. He spent five seasons as an assistant on Sean Miller’s Xavier staff (2004-09) after serving on the staff of the late Skip Prosser at Xavier as director of basketball operations (1999-01) and as an assistant coach at Wake Forest (2001-04).
In 10 seasons as an assistant or operations director, he helped his teams produce a 229-96 record (.705), win four regular season titles and one conference tournament championship, and secure eight NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to three Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight. Those teams won at least 20 games in nine of the 10 seasons.
Mack began his coaching career in 1993 as the junior varsity girls basketball coach at McAuley High School in Cincinnati. He was the varsity girls basketball coach at Mount Notre Dame High School in Reading, Ohio, for four years (1995-99), directing the team to four straight sectional titles and earning Cincinnati Post Coach of the Year honors in 1996.
A 1992 Xavier graduate with a degree in communication arts, Mack was a two-time team captain as a player at Xavier under then head coach Pete Gillen. He won the 1993 Midwestern City Conference (MCC) regular season championship (12-2 record) and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Mack was the 1987-88 Cincinnati Post Metro Player of the Year at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati before going on to start for two seasons at Evansville under Jim Crews, winning an MCC Regular Season Championship and a trip to the second round of the 1989 NCAA Tournament as a freshman at Evansville. He transferred to Xavier after his sophomore season.
Mack and his wife, Christi, have two daughters, Lainee (12) and Hailee (11), and a son, Brayden (3). A native of Louisville, the former Christi Hester was the runner-up for Kentucky Miss Basketball as a senior at Holy Cross High School. She played basketball at Dayton, where she scored 1,268 career points and was later inducted into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014. She served as the Director of Basketball Operations for the Xavier women’s basketball team (2001-03) and more recently as the head girls basketball coach at Cincinnati’s Colerain High School Cardinals.
Mack and his wife created the Mack Family Foundation in 2016, a family-centered foundation whose mission is to serve, inspire and aid less fortunate children.
Watch excerpts from Monday’s press conference announcing Vince Tyra as AD below: