Cardinal Football

Duke Football Was Once So Pathetic It Helped Them Win A Lawsuit Against UofL

Chris Humphrey

The Louisville Cardinals and the Duke Blue Devils have had plenty of memorable meetings on the hardwood, but this Friday will be just the second time to the schools have faced off on the gridiron.

The lone meeting occurred in 2002 where the Cards crushed the Blue Devils 40-3 in Durham, North Carolina. To be honest, the only reason I remember this game is because there were plenty of fans who had just learned that Duke actually had a football program when they saw them on the schedule. Also, I remember watching on television thinking the game was being played at a rural middle school.

The two programs were supposed to meet three more times as part of a four game contract, however Duke backed out of the deal. The late decision to resulted in UofL little time to find another Power 5 non-conference opponent to add to the future schedules.

UofL later decided to sue Duke $450,000 in damages. In 2008 a judge ruled in Duke’s favor and it’s hard to argue against it. The University argued that because their football program was so bad at that time, Louisville could’ve scheduled basically any other Division 1 team would work as a replacement.

Below is an excerpt from ESPN’s report in 2008.


In a lawsuit filed late last year, Louisville asked for $450,000 in damages and any additional damages the court saw fit.

But Duke’s lawyers argued that the Blue Devils’ performance on the field was so poor that any Division I team would suffice as a replacement. Duke is 6-45 over the past five years, 13-90 since 1999.

Judge Phillip J. Shepherd of the Franklin County (Ky.) Circuit Court agreed, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

“At oral argument, Duke [with a candor perhaps more attributable to good legal strategy than to institutional modesty] persuasively asserted that this is a threshold that could not be any lower,” Shepherd wrote in a summary judgment issued Thursday, according to the paper. “Duke’s argument on this point cannot be reasonably disputed by Louisville.”

Duke, according to the suit, asked the Cardinals to find a replacement opponent and promised to pay Louisville only if the school could not find one after a “good faith” effort. A $150,000 penalty for each game was included in the contract if a “team of similar stature” could not be found to fill the date.

The two schools were to meet four times between 2002 and 2009. Louisville beat the Blue Devils 40-3 in September 2002, but Duke opted out of the final three games, to be played last season and in 2008 and 2009.


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