There’s a sad irony about UConn’s coaches talking about the state budget mess at “UConn Day” at the state Capitol Wednesday. In some sort of “let-them-eat-cake” moments, basketball coaches Kevin Ollie (men’s) and Chris Dailey (women’s associate) both gave a nod to the pain-inducing financial mess while enjoying million dollar salaries. (Dailey doesn’t make millions but women’s head coach Geno Auriemma certainly does.) So as the homeless, troubled children and those with behavioral health challenges lose funding for essential programs, UConn sports coaches try to decide who will clean their pools.
To be fair, Ollie, Auriemma and football coach Bob Diaco are paid the market rate for big-time college sports coaches. But it can’t be ignored that the taxpayers are paying their huge salaries.
Diaco agreed to an $8 million contract; three years ago Auriemma signed a deal worth nearly $11 million; and Ollie scored a $15 million deal. So who better to make cracks about the state being in the fiscal morass it’s in?
According to the Hartford Courant’s Chris Keating, Ollie said, “I know there’s a lot of things that you all have to do, especially with the budget…We need to get this budget the right way.” Ollie then told the legislators UConn needs “a lot of money.”
“You trying to come up with a budget,” Dailey told lawmakers, “is more difficult than us winning the national championship.” Indeed. Especially when millions are siphoned off to pay coaches.
In the real world, towns are losing their property tax relief money. Education has been slashed. The aforementioned social services, hospitals and community health centers are not getting their money.
But for heaven’s sake, be sure to pay top dollar to coaches who teach how to bounce a ball or impose concussion-inducing hits. But those folks won’t have the proper services.