Letters from Louk: Goodbye from an Old Friend

June 09, 2011

The voice of USF Athletics, Jim Louk, will routinely put down his radio headset and pick up the pen to share his perspective on the history of USF Athletics.

Louk has been broadcasting games for 27 years and is the resident historian in the Athletics Department hallways ... This week he remembers the Sun Dome in Goodbye from an Old Friend.

Goodbye from an Old Friend

The paperwork is done now, so I’ll be going away soon. But before I go, there are some things I’d like you to know about me.

I’m not that old of a guy, actually. I’m 31. There are a lot of new buildings on campus that are younger than me, but I’m not exactly the oldest guy on the block either. That movie actor said it best; it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.

When they built me I had a mirror building about 120 miles to the north. The O’Connell Center in Gainesville is my brother. We used to look alike, but I admit that did change as the years went on.

Coming Soon building Sun Dome
Your business space was ready in the fall of 1980 The beginnings of construction The finished product

If you’ve gone to events in me recently, you didn’t see me at my “A” game. I had a great staff trying to keep me at top form, but it was difficult.

I wish you could have seen me when I was newer. I used to be the focal point of USF athletics and one of the best known buildings on campus.

Concerts? I had them all. In the days before forums and amphitheaters, I was the place in Tampa Bay for music. Sinatra was here. Sting. James Taylor. Heart. Pick any ‘80’s or ‘90s group and there’s a good chance I hosted them. I made them sound good too. You should have been here when I did an opera concert with Luciano Pavarotti. Pretty cool.

Special events? Sure. How about an NCAA Basketball Regional in 1983. How about wrestling! Pick any group of letters; WWE, WCW, NWA.…I had a squared circle for every one of them.

Here’s one for you; I hosted a rodeo once! In my prime I could adjust to any setting, any event, or any arena layout. I was busy, and full more often than not.

Wrestling Rodeo Concert
"From parts unknown, weight unknown" Sometimes you have to give up the zone and just play horse to horse The set up for concerts

I watched thousands of high school kids graduate every year. Some of the best high school students I saw again four years later when they graduated from USF.

When I started I had an air supported roof. I think it was just me, the Pontiac Silverdome and the Carrier Dome that had one. Anyway, it was pretty neat. My doors were hard to open but people remembered the rush of air I gave them when they entered. Never did get a center-hung scoreboard for basketball though. Roof wasn’t strong enough. Finally my roof tore in a rainstorm, the basketball floor got ruined, and they sprung for a new hard roof for me.

Roof Deflation
The Roof Deflation Ticket

I bet you remember me best for USF basketball, don’t you? Boy, I hosted some good players. Dobras, Bradley, Atkins, Kohn, Dickson, Jones….all those players. I had three USF NCAA teams; two by the men and one by the women. I remember back in 1984 I had USF-DePaul right before the first Tampa Super Bowl. DePaul was No. 2 in the nation and James Garner sat in one of my seats that night.

Jessica Dickson Charlie Bradley Radenko Dobras Fred Lewis
Chucky Atkins
Altron Jackson
Reggie Kohn
Dominique Jones
Atkins Jackson Kohn Jones

Which reminds me….my seats were all new once, you know. And all the same color by section. They were divided that way to tell you what entrance and exit you should use. Bet you didn’t know that.

Jerry West visited me for a game. And Derek Jeter. Even John Smoltz right near the end. I had them all at one time or another.

If you wanted a basketball court you had to come to me. I worked for years before the Corral was finally added on. Always thought it made me look fat.

Mike LaPan
Mike LaPan

The best memories are the people though. That’s what made me successful. This guy Mike LaPan managed me for like 20 years. There were lots of others there, year after year, working hard every day.

Now, my doors are closed, but things are looking up. I’ve got an unbelievable new face. When you come in off Fowler Avenue the Pam and Les Muma practice facility is going to make me look downright pretty. Inside, I might have loge boxes and suites. Me! Can you imagine?

Anyway, I wanted to tell you this stuff now before I left. I sure appreciate all of you over the years. I was always glad to see you, and I always tried hard to make you comfortable.

It’s a new era now though. I wonder if they will change my name.

One thing I know for sure. In less than a year, my doors are going to open again and it’s going to feel like 1980 all over for me. I’m going back to the cutting edge. I’m going to amaze you just the way I amazed those Bulls fans three decades ago. I can’t wait.


And see you soon.

Your friend,

The USF Sun Dome

Jim Louk   Jim Louk
  Voice of the USF Athletics since 1983
When the 2010-11 academic year rolled around, Jim Louk began his 27th year in the athletics department at the University of South Florida and his fifth as Assistant Director of Athletics for Sales and Broadcasting.

Louk came to USF in 1983 as the radio play-by-play announcer for the Bulls’ men’s basketball team and served as the lead voice until the conclusion of the 1997 season. He then made the transition to football in USF’s inaugural 1997 season, and still serves as the team’s play-by-play announcer today. Louk will come into the 2010 football season having broadcast every Bulls’ game in their history – a span of 165 games.

Not only a contributor over the airwaves, Louk has also made his presence felt in getting other USF sports teams exposure on radio and television as well. Prior to the 2003-04 season only men’s basketball and football were consistently seen or heard in the Tampa Bay area. However, since then, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, women’s basketball, softball and baseball all make regular appearances on either radio, television or on the internet – via audio or video – with live streaming.

Truly the “Voice of USF Athletics,” in addition to men’s basketball and football, Louk has also frequently announced USF women’s basketball, baseball and softball games for both radio and television.

On the sales side, Louk heads up all season and group ticket sales for USF athletics while also overseeing a staff of three associates. The ticket sales team was part of a departmental sales effort that resulted in over 7 million dollars of USF game ticket sales in the 2009-10 academic year.

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Louk is a 1979 graduate of the University of Bridgeport where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

Louk, his wife Barbara and their son Ross reside in Lutz.

05/14/10 - Fond & Funny Memories at Red McEwen Field
05/27/10 - Memories of Leagues Past
06/19/10 - Early Travel with the Bulls
06/23/10 - Home(s) of the Bulls
07/12/10 - 21 in a Row
08/25/10 - Bring Me the Head of Rocky the Bull
09/06/10 - Another Signature Win
09/15/10 - Happy 15th Birthday, USF Football
09/17/10 - Visit with Joe Lewkowicz
09/17/10 - Visit with Sherry Bedingfield
10/18/10 - The First Bowl Game
11/03/10 - Top 10 Wins in USF Football History
11/16/10 - 1990 Sun Belt Championship
11/23/10 - Visit with Dan Holcomb
11/30/10 - Visit with Kerine Black
12/02/10 - Visit with Ross Gload
12/10/10 - Let’s Just Get This Game Over With
01/19/11 - Way Out West for the NCAA Tournament
01/31/11 - The Best Road Trip Ever
02/10/11 - History of the NCAA Tournament in Tampa Bay
03/22/11 - Go For Broke - 1986 Baseball
06/09/11 - Goodbye from an Old Friend
1992-93 1992-93 1993-94 1993-94




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