23
Feb
09

Don’t Question Jim Calhoun

When asked by a reporter if his multi-million dollar salary was fair given the University of Connecticut’s recent budget woes, Jim Calhoun, head men’s basketball coach, was very frank.

“Don’t throw out salaries and other things, get some facts and come back and see me.”

What facts was he referring to? The fact that the basketball program is what UConn is best known for. The fact that the basketball program makes over $12 million a year for the university. The fact that because of the basketball program’s success and popularity, normal students like myself get to enjoy some finer luxuries at a state-run university that other schools just don’t have the funds to offer. The fact that besides the money his basketball team brings UConn, Calhoun and his wife established and fund the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at the UConn Health Center. The fact that Calhoun gives back to the Connecticut community by running the Jim Calhoun Holiday Food Drive every year.

 

Coach Calhoun at his annual food drive

Coach Calhoun at his annual food drive

Sure, tuition is reportedly going to rise for next year, something to the degree of 7%, but UConn’s cost of tuition is still much lower than almost all private schools nationwide and is one of the least expensive state schools in the country. 

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Sure, knowing that Jim Calhoun is the highest paid state employee and is a basketball coach is somewhat troubling, but the man gets results. Two national championships in the last ten years and post-season basketball in each except his first season here and 2006-2007 when UConn lost all of their starters and some key reserves to the NBA draft. I’d pay him even more myself if it would keep him around as our coach for another ten years.

In a time of national economic crisis, and similar crisises at universities from here to California, a saving grace for Americans is sports. Watching a basketball game is an escape from your troubles, especially in the college arena. Here we have guys playing for the love of the game, battling for playing time, hustling for loose balls, sweating, bleeding, and giving in their all on the court for one goal: victory. And what exactly influences young male athletes to play with heart while putting their egos aside? Good coaching. Great coaching. Calhoun has that in spades, and that’s not even debatable. He’s a hall of famer, a college basketball legend, and a Connecticut treasure.

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To the reporter who posed the question to Mr. Calhoun, what exactly was your motive? Was it to see if Calhoun somehow felt he was overpaid? Was it to see if he was embarrassed to be making so much money while the rest of the country is struggling to keep their jobs and put food on the table? Was it to force Calhoun to publicly apologize for being one of the richest college basketball coaches in the country? Was it to make a story out of nothing at all, to humiliate one of the most respected men in the state?

Whatever your motive was, it was ill-advised. There’s absolutely no reason to question a man of that caliber’s pay rate. You embarrassed yourself, your newspaper, and the journalism profession at large. And just like Calhoun said himself, if you don’t know enough about the facts, it’s best if you just “shut up.”

calhoun1A.Martin

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