The Burton-Hathaway Kerfuffle

UConn fans are getting a taste of what it means to be a football school. Unfortunately, every major university in America, particularly around the time of head coaching hires, has to deal with angry boosters. Everyone is an expert. Everyone wants their guy.

I waited until today to chime in on the Robert Burton vs Jeff Hathaway feud because A) I wanted to gather more information, and B) I wanted to let this thing marinate for a little while before I rushed to judgement. My initial response was to rush to Hathaway's defense, because I found the idea that Burton thinks he should have had input into the coaching search to be absolutely absurd.

Well, a day later, I'm still siding with Hathaway, and not just because I don't believe donors should have input into coaching searches. Whether Hathaway was right, wrong or indifferent for not massaging Burton from January 3rd through January 13th isn't the point, because I don't believe for a second this is about Burton not being kept "in the loop". This is about Burton not wanting one particular guy (Pasqualoni) to get the job, and when it turned out to be that one guy, Burton blew a gasket.

Burton's own words: "When I called you on Monday, January 3rd, I made two things very clear to you, as the largest donor in the UConn football program. I told you that I wanted to be involved in the hiring process for the new coach. I also gave you my insight about who would be a good fit for the head coaching position as well as who would not." You can bet your bottom dollar that Burton made it very clear on January 3rd that he was not in favor of Paul Pasqualoni's candidacy. Noted Bob, thanks.

It's obvious that Hathaway was well aware of Burton's opinion of Pasqualoni, and I'm sure he let President Austin and future President Herbst know that hiring Pasqualoni was going to anger a certain donor. Based on the fact that Pasqualoni was hired, I think we can safely assume where the President and future President stand on this particular issue.

So what's Burton's issue with Pasqualoni? Bob's son Joe played for Pasqualoni at Syracuse from 1997 to 2001, and it appears that there may be some bad blood lingering from Joe not being named captain his senior season (seriously). Burton, who at the time was a Syracuse donor, apparently pulled his money and started donating to UConn. Some have speculated out of spite for Pasqualoni. I don't know this to be the case, but seeing how Burton behaves when he doesn't get his way, and reading his threats to send his employees to Syracuse for business training, instead of UConn, it certainly appears to be within the realm of possibility.

The very fact that Burton has an ax to grind with Pasqualoni should have precluded him from being involved with the process. That and the fact that the guy is in no way qualified to be making any decisions regarding the coaching search, contrary to what his letter claims (good grief). Supposing for a second that Hathaway actually did want Burton's input, how could said input be taken seriously, knowing full well that Burton was biased against Pasqualoni?

I firmly believe that even if Hathaway had involved Burton in this process, and still hired Pasqualoni, he would have received a similar response. I think Hathaway knew that and decided against dealing with it. He went silent, conducted his interviews, gathered his information, and hired the man he thought was best for the position.

To be clear, I am not some Jeff Hathaway rah-rah supporter. I think the University's Athletic Department, namely the football program, has been under-marketed over the past few years. The partnership with SNY is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

In the end this is just a rich guy with a sense of entitlement, who was obviously donating to UConn for his own personal gains, not out of love for the program or out of caring for the athletes. Burton had an agenda, Hathaway deviated from it, and now Bob wants his ball and he wants to leave the playground. Noted Bob, thanks.


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