Last Night's Winner: The Business Of Boosting (UPDATE)

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A major donor to the UConn football program wants his money back, all $3 million of it, because he didn't get enough say in hiring the new head coach. This is how your booster sausage is made, people.

It ought to come as news to no one that big donors aren't exactly giving away their money for free. Perhaps wistful that they never went into football themselves, they expect for their millions of dollars a modicum of input on how things are done: it's like buying an assistant AD position. But what's to stop the actual AD, the one who was hired for his football knowledge, to ignore their advice completely? Ask UConn, where Robert G. Burton is taking his money and going home because he doesn't like Paul Pasqualoni.


Hey, look, no one like Paul Pasqualoni. But no one's reacting quite so petulantly as Burton, who's given $7 million over the years to the program, and whose name adorns the football complex in Storrs. He wants his name taken off the complex, and he wants his gift of nearly $3 million returned.

Burton wrote a six-page letter to the school last week, blasting AD Jeff Hathaway:

The primary reason Randy [Edsall] took another job is because he couldn't work with you. You are not qualified to be a Division I AD and I would have fired you a long time ago. You do not have the skills to manage and cultivate new donors."

According to the letter, Burton called Hathaway on Jan. 3 and asked to be "kept in the loop" with the hiring process for the next football coach. It was "the same process that (former Athletic Director) Lew Perkins had with me when Randy was hired."


For their part, UConn claims they sought and considered Burton's advice, but decided to go in a different direction. Not good enough. Not only is Burton demanding his money back, but he's going to stop renting a luxury box for games, stop funding a coaching clinic, withdraw the football scholarships in his name, and take his business elsewhere, to Syracuse.

That's a heavy toll. This is worse for the school than if they had just hired Burton's choice for coach, and that's problematic. We'd love to pretend that college football is somewhere more pure, and less in thrall to the power brokers, but it's not true. The people pulling the strings are the donors, and it's best not to cross them.

UPDATE: Apparently, Burton wanted Steve Addazio. Burton is not a man you want to trust with making personnel decisions.