Friday, August 19, 2011

Hathaway Out at UConn

Jeff Hathaway’s eight-year tenure as director of athletics at the University of Connecticut came to an end on Friday.

Officially, Hathaway has “retired” from the position, though in reality his departure is the result of an unflattering review of his job performance conducted by an independent group called MGT of America.

Hathaway will remain employed by UConn through Sept. 15 to assist in the transition process.

“I have been proud to serve the University of Connecticut for nearly two decades, including the last eight years as Director of Athletics,” Hathaway said in a statement released by UConn. “It is an honor and privilege to have led this outstanding Division of Athletics and to have worked with so many remarkable student-athletes, coaches, staff members and colleagues at the University, the Big East Conference and NCAA … After 20 years of being associated with UConn, I felt the time was right for me to pursue new challenges.”

Senior Associate Director of Athletics Paul McCarthy will assume responsibilities of the athletic director position until an interim director is named.

“I want to thank Jeff for his long service to UConn and our Division of Athletics,” said UConn President Susan Herbst. “The university has had unprecedented success on the field, on the court and in the classroom for more than a decade and he has a great deal to be proud of during his tenure. I join so many others at the university in thanking him for his service and in wishing him well.”

Under terms of the separation agreement between Hathaway and the university, Hathaway will essentially receive his yearly salary of $531,717, minus any compensation he earns from another job in the athletics field. His biweekly payments will cease on Sept. 15, 2013.

Although UConn’s athletic teams are coming off a tremendous season in which the men’s basketball team won a national championship, the women’s basketball team went to the Final Four, the football team went to the Fiesta Bowl and the baseball team advanced to the Super Regionals, Hathaway has come under fire.

Scandal in the men’s basketball program which led to NCAA sanctions, the failure to replace a key fundraising position, drops across the board in season-ticket sales, even highly publicized criticism from a major donor have been among the many issues embattling Hathaway in recent years.

Last month, UConn paid MGT of America, $28,400 to perform a “360 evaluation” of Hathaway’s performance as athletic director. Reportedly, the review consisted of heavy criticism of Hathaway from the more than 30 people with ties to UConn athletics who were interviewed.

The 360 evaluation process has been terminated prior to its completion, according to the separation agreement, and its results are not likely to be made public.

The arrival of Herbst in June may have signaled the beginning of the end for Hathaway, 52. Herbst has strongly supported UConn men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun, a frequent critic of Hathaway’s.

Among other things, sources say Calhoun is unhappy with the way his contract negotiations – which included monetary penalties for his team’s poor APR scores – unfolded, as well as a perceived lack of support from Hathaway during the NCAA investigation. Hathaway told NCAA investigators that he had never seen a coach so obsessed with landing a recruit as Calhoun was with Nate Miles, the key figure in the recruiting violations.

For the past four years, Hathaway has served on the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Committee, representing the Big East. He is slated to serve as the committee chairman this year, though it’s unclear whether his termination at UConn will thwart that honor. The school has agreed not to interfere with any efforts Hathaway may engage in to chair the committee.

Hathaway has been UConn’s AD since 2003, when he replaced Lew Perkins, who left to take over the same job at the University of Kansas.

While it’s impossible to say who will replace Hathaway or when, it could happen soon. UConn took less than two days, after all, to replace Perkins with Hathaway eight years ago.

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