Story/Photo By Ken Krayeske • 6:30 PM EST
Update II (2/23/09): Dom Perno was never UConn AD. It was John Toner. My bad.
Update: Crazy press on this story. I was totally wrong. People did cover it.
Fanhouse- has the youtube exchange. Calhoun is heated.
emeka, nadav and corny - had the actual transcription of the interview.
A few quick things - no one mentioned that I am a student at the University of Connecticut School of Law.
No one mentioned that I do indeed have a photo of Calhoun from today's game on my website - posted above.
No one mentioned that the next reporter he called on, he congratulated that reporter on writing the best story on Hasheem Thabeet ever.
And finally, I am a freelance journalist. The First Amendment says so. And the flood of angry emails from anonymous hacks calling explains why this website has no comments page.
Clearly, this line of questioning touches a nerve. Here's the story.
Despite a multi-billion dollar budget deficit facing the state of Connecticut, UConn men's hoops coach Jim Calhoun, the highest paid state employee with an annual salary of $1.6 million, will not take a pay cut to help the state close its budget gap.
"Not a dime," Calhoun said during a post-game press conference Saturday, February 21, 2009 in Hartford, after the top-ranked Huskies ran over the University of South Florida Bulls.
"I have to retire," Calhoun said. He also mentioned that he makes more than $1.6 million with the side deals. But his value to the university is worth much more, he argued.
"We bring in $12 million to the university every year," Calhoun said. "Get some facts and come back and see me then."
Calhoun asked what the gate take was for the day, and I responded that I didn't know. He reiterated that the men's basketball program turns over $12 million a year to the university, and that benefits other players.
He said that I should talk to him after the press conference, but I was fine discussing it there. This isn't the place, he said. I suggested it was. He raised his voice, yelling like I was one of his college basketball players who failed to get back on defense.
I had a knot in my stomach as I pursued the questions in front of the other members of the press who covered Calhoun every day. But I couldn't find a single story that discussed the value of his deal with Comcast.
Calhoun would not divulge the amount he gets paid from private endorsement deals like the one with Comcast, which plasters his face across billboards and buses and magazine ads. I didn't even ask about his private deal with Nike.
Of course, the reporters and television personalities groaned when I posited that they should have written this story ages ago. I bet that we don't see this mentioned in any game story today or tomorrow.
"You're not that stupid" he told me, in front of the assembled press corps. I am, I said, and I repeated the question. He refused to answer.
Former Hartford City Councilman and state representative Al Marotta, who sat behind one one of the baskets during the game, agreed that Calhoun shouldn't turn over a dime.
"There was an agreement and a contract," Marotta said. "If he wanted to forgive any increase, then maybe. Or if he's making too much, then maybe."
But Marotta maintained that there were other coaches in the country who made more than Calhoun, and that he is not making too much money.
Calhoun last saw his contract renewed in 2004, after he won a national championship. "Calhoun received a new six-year deal that pushed his contract through 2010. Calhoun's salary increases from $1.2 million in 2003-04 through 2007-08 to $1.6 million in 2008-09 and 2009-10," according to a May 2007 story Andy Katz at Espn.com "Coaches turn titles into green."
Calhoun isn't the only one in Division I men's basketball who has seen his salary jump after winning a crown. ESPN's Katz interviewed Calhoun, who said "a school is rewarding a head coach just like a company would a great salesman."
"You want to keep and maintain the people doing the job," Calhoun said Friday. "People shouldn't find it unusual. These aren't rec programs. These are programs that have budgets of $54 million. They are self-sufficient. [Head coaches] are being treated like every other part of society, and I think that's as well it should be. You don't want to lose talented people. It also says to young coaches that you can make money in coaching."
Considering that President Obama just suggested that salaries for bank executives should be capped at $500,000, society may be rethinking its executive compensation.
Obama's brother in law, Craig Robinson, is the head men's basketball coach at Oregon State University, agreed to a six-year deal worth more than $5 million in April 2008.
Retired UConn baseball coach Andy Baylock agreed that men;'s basketball supports many other sports. Baylock now works for UConn athletics as a liaison to 104 NFL scouts and more than 1,100 UConn football alumnae, dating back to 1930.
"I don't know," Baylock said. "At the end of the year, basketball supports a lot of other programs."
Everyone thought former athletic director John Toner was nuts to strive to have UConn jump from Division I-AA to Division I-A in football, Baylock said.
"But those two sports take in plus revenue," he said. "We used to lose a couple of million on football every year. Now we make money."
UConn football coach Randy Edsall rakes in about $1.5 million annually, and is the second highest paid state employee. UConn women's basketball coach Geno Aureimma, with an annual salary of $1.25 million, is the third highest paid.
Even a small pay cut could help the athletic department sustain more programs for college students. But, in Jim Calhoun's world, a comfortable retirement is more important than scholarships and equipment for young athletes who happen to excel at a sport that doesn't attract a national television audience.