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U of L promotes Josh Heird to permanent athletic director

University of Louisville Athletics promoted interim athletic director Josh Heird to permanent status Friday.

Heird served in the interim role for six months before being chosen from a national pool of applicants.

During Friday’s announcement, Heird said his mission is to foster a “culture of excellence.” He promised transparency and high standards of conduct.

“[That] means we’re going to be committed to something bigger than this department,” Heird said. “We’re going to impact this campus and this community. We’ll be engaged and visible across this campus and this city. We are going to hold ourselves accountable.”

Rocco Gasparro, associate sports information director for U of L, said Heird stabilized the department after a difficult two-year period marred by misconduct and extortion allegations.

“He’s not going to tell you what you want to hear, he’s going to be straightforward with you and that’s what people want,” Gasparro said.

Heird oversaw the hiring of Kenny Payne to the position of men’s basketball head coach in March after the program negotiated a separation with former head coach, Chris Mack.

Gasparro said Heird’s “quiet, successful” search for a head coach earned the confidence of many within the program.

“It seems like fans and everybody have been reunited with that hiring, so I think he’s done a good job of calming the waters over the last six months,” Gasparro said.

Heird also helped create U of L’s Name, Image and Likeness department to help athletes navigate endorsements and other marketing ventures. 

His career in sports administration spans more than 13 years. He worked in U of L athletics from 2007 to 2016 before serving in several sports leadership positions at Villanova University until 2019. He returned to Louisville in 2019 as deputy athletic director.

Michael is a senior studying journalism and political science at Western Kentucky University and a news reporter with WFPL and KyCIR.

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