Posted: Thursday May 5, 2005 5:21PM; Updated: Thursday May 5, 2005 6:03PM
UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun is one of the Huskies officials who traded tickets for cars.
Jim McIssac/Getty Images
Bill Clinton had Monicagate. Now the UConn athletic department, in particular athletic director Jeff Hathaway, must contend with Monacogate. In a series of articles that began on April 4, the Hartford Courant reported Hathaway and his wife were receiving gratis the use of vehicles from Glastonbury-based Monaco Ford. While that is not unusual -- the football coach, basketball coach and athletic director at almost every big-time school you can name are driving around in comped cars -- the terms of Hathaway's arrangement has led to an investigation by the state's ethics commission.
According to the Courant, Hathaway, along with head coaches Randy Edsall (football), Jim Calhoun (men's basketball) and Geno Auriemma (women's basketball), as well as women's associate head basketball coach Chris Dailey, had deals in place to receive complimentary cars in exchange for tickets. However, according to the Courant, last summer Hathaway asked all athletic department staffers who receive complimentary tickets sign a form stating that they would not sell their tickets to a third party. Hathaway, according to the Courant, "exempted himself and the coaches from the no-selling rule because he viewed selling tickets for cars as different from other forms of selling."
In other words, Hathaway forbade employees of the school's athletic department from scalping tickets for cash; meanwhile, he allegedly allowed himself and the three highest-paid employees of the department to continue exchanging seats for wheels.
Second, according to the Courant, under the terms of Hathaway's agreement with Monaco, he would perform endorsement services in exchange for use of the vehicles. Hathaway has never done an ad or in any way endorsed the dealership. The NCAA allows athletic department officials to supplement their income from "bona fide" outside employment in which the officials are "performing services. " However, an official cannot accept the car as an outright gift.
Thus, the only manner in which Hathaway might receive use of the cars without violating NCAA rules is to exchange the university's tickets for them. However, according to the Courant, when Hathaway notified the state ethics commission about his endorsement deal with Monaco, he never apprised them of the fact that what he was actually giving them was not his image -- whatever it may be worth -- but rather tickets. The Courant reported Hathaway later apologized to the commission and returned the vehicles, but at that time did not disclose that he had given Monaco tickets from his personal stash.
Monacogate begs many questions, both of UConn and of the car-dealer program tradition in general. To wit:
Why are the four highest-paid employees in the UConn athletic department (Hathaway earns $240,000 per year, far less than Edsall, Calhoun or Auriemma) allowed to barter their tickets for cars, yet the lesser athletic department staffers are not allowed to offer up their tickets on eBay? Scalping is scalping, no?
Why is any employee at a state-run institution allowed to profit by scalping tickets -- either for cash or goods and services -- and student-athletes are banned by NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 from selling theirs because it constitutes an extra benefit?
Does Hathaway read the newspaper? A year ago Connecticut governor John G. Rowland resigned amid impeachment hearings after accepting gifts from state contractors and aides. In March, Rowland was sentenced to one year in prison on corruption charges. Now here comes Hathaway, one of the state's most visible officials, accepting gifts from a business that has a pre-existing contract with UConn. (Do you see an obvious difference between Rowland's and Hathaway's situations? Me neither.)
The postcript? On Friday, April 22, UConn president Philip Austin announced a university-wide ban on employees selling or bartering their personal tickets for anything of value. I'm sure that new policy had nothing to do with the Courant exposing Hathaway's hypocrisies.