Louisville Magazine

NOV 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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48 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 11.18 CATCHING UP WITH CRUM As soon as I turn off the main road the lane looks familiar, though I haven't driven it since 1986 while working on a story. e long private drive to the home of former University of Louisville men's basketball coach Denny Crum lifts me gradually up a hill and past an artisan-carved, cedar-trunk totem pole with the Cardinal Bird perched at its top — a gift from his wife Susan Sweeney Crum for his 80th birthday. Many of the surrounding trees have matured, but the landscape feels unchanged. is 75- acre spread in far eastern Jefferson County has been a satisfying retreat for the two- time national champion, and it remains the relaxing redoubt for a man who never left Louisville after coaching the team for 30 years, from 1971 to 2001, even if at times the city seems to have forgotten him. Crum, now 81, appears the same too, in many ways. He's still lean and upright, still presenting as an athlete. His imposing Maremma sheepdog and three Labradors greet me barking at the door, and he settles them with a calm command. ey take Reconnecting with former University of Louisville men's basketball coach Denny Crum — and revisiting the 30-year era under his reign. By Bruce Allar Photos by Jessica Ebelhar positions on the floor around the kitchen table where Crum and I sit to talk. He puts his cell phone in front of him; he says he doesn't answer it unless he recognizes the number. A landline on the wall rings occasionally; he never answers that one. Somehow, Crum has kept up a vestige of his youthful hairline, holding it against the ravages of time. He's wearing a golf shirt with the U of L Cardinal Bird on his chest. His Hall of Fame ring weighs down the fourth digit on his right hand. Crum's age shows through, however, in graying hair, a husky voice and puffs around his eyes (perhaps related to his persistent allergies). He repeatedly rubs those eyes during our conversation, as if doing so will help him see more clearly how to respond to my questions. He's not a natural storyteller. A math and PE major in college, Crum is very analytical and not prone to see poetry in the events he describes. Until recently, Crum served as an ambassador for the school and ran the Denny Crum Scholarship Foundation as part of a reported $7 million coaching buyout, which included a 15-year contract at $338,000 annually. at contract expired in 2016. Crum sounds almost apologetic when he describes how he spends his time now. "I don't have a job," he says. At another point, he adds, "Now that I'm not working at all." Yesterday, Crum and his wife got back from a trip to Alaska. On that same sojourn last year, Crum suffered a minor stroke, which has left no major after- effects. His wife says he's had no other health issues since. Crum went deer hunting with some Louisville friends right after the flight back ("I didn't see the one I wanted to shoot") and is scheduled to fly out tomorrow for two weeks of fishing in Idaho with a group of five other guys, then stay one more week when his wife and two of his children come out to the family cabin. (Crum has two sons and a daughter from previous marriages.) "en I'll be back here for the winter, and it'll be deer season, which is my favorite time of year," Crum says. "I've already been putting corn out, and I set up a trail camera so I can see which deer are coming up and eating that corn every night." His hunting buddies do the same, and the group moves from one property to the next to look for trophy bucks. e octogenarian Crum can't walk the woods like he used to, so a friend will four-wheel him to his deer stand in the morning and pick him up when the day is done. "Deer hunting has kind of consumed me the past few years," he says. He learned to hunt with his father growing up outside Los Angeles. "I kind of quit when I was coaching," he says. "I didn't have time." It's hard to believe that a man as approachable as Denny Crum could sometimes seem left out in the cold by the school and much of the community that he brought into the spotlight with national championships in 1980 and '86, as well as with nearly annual runs at the title. So many players come to mind from the high-flying days under Crum, when the Cards stared down the best teams in the country, from UCLA to North Carolina and Indiana, often in front of our eyes at Freedom Hall. e 1980 team had Darrell

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