Welcome to a special edition of Rich’s Rants. I was going to save the topic of this special edition for Rich’s Rants’ regularly scheduled timeslot of next Tuesday, but I just couldn’t wait. The topic? The University of Connecticut versus a donor.
The problem started immediately after the Fiesta Bowl, when Randy Edsall announced he was leaving UCONN to become the head coach at Maryland and one of the major donors to UCONN, Robert Burton, wanted in on the decision about who would be the new head coach. According to a report, he even went as far as suggesting that UCONN hire Steve Addazio. Keep in mind, when Burton suggested this, Addazio had already been hired to be the head coach at Temple (not to mention, Addazio was basically let go from Florida because he completely failed as their offensive coordinator and was the person every Florida fan blamed for their poor season, so would he have been a good choice for UCONN?).
Well, a little time passed, and UCONN ended up hiring former Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni and this really set off Burton. He felt he was completely ignored during the process and based on a letter he sent to UCONN which was released to the media yesterday, he was not happy at all about it. Now, Burton wants some of the money he donated to the university returned, his name removed from the football complex on the UCONN campus, he will no longer provide money for football scholarships (instead it will go to Business students) and he will instead give all his money to Syracuse.
If you read the letter linked above, you will probably come to the same conclusion I did. Robert Burton is simply a rich person who believes he is entitled to anything he wants simply because he donated money (granted 7 million dollars is not chump change) and because he didn’t get his way, he’s going to “take his ball and go home”. The arrogance of Burton in the letter cannot be hidden. The way he lauds his “expertise” was laughable; what does being a former college player, NFL draftee (19th round), scout and the father of college football players have to do with knowing what’s good for the program? As I mentioned above, his suggestion of Addazio to replace Edsall really makes me wonder if he actually does know what a good coach is, because if you ask me, Addazio is not one and every single Florida fan will agree.Since when does donating money guarantee you any part in the decision making process for the school? Does a donor to the Science department get a say in what is taught or which professors to hire? No. If the Athletic Director is willing to play the game, he/she will make it seem to the donor like they actually have a say just to ensure the money keeps flowing in but I seriously doubt what the donor wants will have any impact on a major decision like head coach or tenured professors. The former athletic director, Lew Perkins, it seems “played the game” with donors (or at least with this arrogant donor) better than the current one, Jeff Hathaway has. Also, just how much money does someone need to donate to have a say in what happens? Do they need to donate at least a million dollars or can the alumnus who donates a thousand bucks a year to the History Department have a say in who teaches the class or that they spend more time on Ancient Greece? And now he wants the money back! I’m thinking he needs to look up the word donation in a dictionary. You donate money, you can ask for it to be spent a certain way, but once it’s donated, that’s it; it is no longer yours and can’t be asked to be returned (at least not by normal people). By asking for the money to be returned and stopping all future donations, all he has done is shown that he doesn’t care about improving the football team or helping football players go to school or helping the school in general; instead he simply cares about having his name on a building and being able to brag to his other rich, entitled friends that “he’s a cog in the UCONN machine and helped make UCONN the football school it is today”.
You have to also ask yourself this question; what is the real reason Burton doesn’t like the Pasqualoni hire? Is it because “Pasqualoni only knows CT players and CT players alone will not put UCONN where they want them to be” as Burton suggested in his letter or is it because when Burton’s son, Joe, played for Pasqualoni at Syracuse, there were reportedly issues between Pasqualoni and his son? I’m sure the recruiting aspect is only part of it, but I would bet the previous issues between Burton and Pasqualoni are the true driving force behind Burton’s hatred of this hire.
Now for the biggest issue his letter brings up; just how involved was Burton in previous athletic decisions? I’m sure the NCAA is going to be very interested in just how involved he was; did it go deeper than just “paying for Lew Perkins’ air transportation to find Randy Edsall and the shelling out money to get Murray State to play at UCONN” as he said in the letter? Boosters giving money are one of the main reasons the NCAA has the rules it currently has, so I’m pretty sure the NCAA is at least curious in his actions (did he have contact with recruits etc). Currently, UCONN is waiting for the results from the NCAA’s investigation into their men’s basketball program and I’m afraid this situation is going to snowball into a “USC-like” situation where an investigation starts in one sport but ends up finding violations everywhere and in all sports resulting in the athletic department basically getting ripped a new one.
Parts of his letter have already been disputed. UCONN has come out and said that “Hathaway received and acknowledged Burton’s advice” before hiring Pasqualoni. In regards to the part of the letter addressing Hathaway’s working relationship with the basketball coaches, Geno Auriemma said ”his statement that Jeff has a poor working relationship with the basketball coaches really angers me. He has no clue what my working or personal relationship is with Jeff nor is it any of his business.” What we now need is Randy Edsall and Lew Perkins to come forward as well (but I don’t expect that to happen).
This is what is wrong with America in general – people thinking they are entitled to something just because of who they are or how much money they have. Mr. Burton, your money will be missed at UCONN and the football players may suffer from the lack of support they will receive in the future, but if you’re going to act like a five year old who holds his breath till he turns blue in an attempt to get their way, go right ahead. UCONN has been playing football since 1896 and I’m sure will continue to play football after you “take your ball and go home”.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? You can send questions or comments via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, you can also leave a comment below, on my Facebook Page or on Twitter. Remember, any email or comment you make, may just make it into Rich’s Replies each Friday! Also, come back each Tuesday for another edition of Rich’s Rants!