Posted on: February 11, 2011 5:27 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2011 5:29 pm

UConn and angry booster are BFF again

Posted by Tom Fornelli

They say that time heals all wounds, but that's a lie when you get down to it. I've had this same scar on my elbow from the time I fell off my bike executing -- or trying to anyway -- a jump when I was ten years old. It's been 20 years, the scar is still there. Still, I suppose there are exceptions to every rule, and my elbow may just be one of them.

That doens't mean we shouldn't amend the idiom to say time heals some wounds. For instance, do you remember Robert Burton? He was the angry UConn booster who demanded a $3 million refund from the school after he wasn't consulted in the Paul Pasqualoni hire. Well, the two sides have hugged it out, and everybody is cool. UConn released a statement about it on Friday.
The University of Connecticut, longtime UConn donor Robert G. Burton, Sr. and his family have agreed to move past their differences and continue their longstanding relationship, according to UConn Board of Trustees Chairman Larry McHugh. McHugh previously said he intended to meet with the family, which he and board Vice Chair Tom Ritter did on Feb. 9.
Citing the Burton family’s past generosity and commitment to the University of Connecticut, McHugh stated: “The time spent with the Burtons confirmed my suspicion that they continue to possess a deep reservoir of love and respect for our University despite the frustration and disappointment they felt with the process used in hiring our new football head coach. The Burton family has been very generous to the university with their time, energy and resources. I felt that it was important to pay a visit to them and have a dialogue. I am very pleased that in a very short period of time he and his family were able to reconnect with UConn, recognizing all the good UConn does for its students and our state. The UConn community is grateful for all of the contributions the Burton family has made to enhance our academic and athletic programs and the support they have provided to so many UConn students.
Burton had this to say:
“I was very pleased that Larry and Tom reached out to my family and me. I think we had very good discussions. I also want to acknowledge Phil Austin, as well as incoming President Susan Herbst who also reached out to me and let her know that the Burton family looks forward to her successful tenure leading UConn. What I am sure they found was a family that is committed to UConn and wanted to reestablish the relationship that has been beneficial both to UConn and to the Burton family. Unfortunately, my unmet expectations and displeasure with the process used to select the football coach left my family and me upset. This expectation was based upon various times during the past 12 years where my family and I were consulted on a number of issues related to the football program as UConn moved from a 1AA school to a 1A BCS Bowl participant. But I have been reflecting on it and came to the conclusion that I’m not going to let one experience change the relationship my family and I have with UConn. We love the university, we’re proud of our association with it and it is going to continue.”
I don't know about you, but I'm wiping tears away from my eyes right now. I just love happy endings!
Posted on: January 28, 2011 12:55 pm

T. Boone Pickens supports angry UConn booster

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Earlier this week on the blog, we introduced you to Robert Burton. Burton was a UConn booster who donated quite a large sum of money to the school and was just a tad bit annoyed by the fact he wasn't consulted when it came to finding a replacement for Randy Edsall. So, in return, Burton demanded his money back from the school, and said he wants his name removed from a complex he financed. Burton's taken a bit of heat for this from columnists all over the country writing about how donors and boosters have too much influence in college athletics these days.

Burton does have one very powerful ally, however. T. Boone Pickens, the man behind the curtain at Oklahoma State, can empathize with Burton and feels that UConn should have done a better job of appeasing him.

"You always have time for people who are putting up the money. That just makes all the sense in the world," T. Boone Pickens told USA Today. "You can't ignore those people. I mean, they've paid their money, and they're entitled to be informed.

"Your donors are as important to you as some of your players are. So you don't want to offend anybody.

"You can't spend all day every day talking to somebody about things. But I would just say, from a distance, that somebody should have talked to the guy and he never should have gotten to the spot where now he's damned unhappy and he wants his money back."

Pickens is right, too. While I don't condone Burton's petulant act of demanding all of his money back - I would have just let the school know that my checkbook is closed in the future - I can totally understand why he's angry. If I was capable of donating that much money to a school, I'd like to think my opinion was valued somewhat. I mean, you wouldn't have to agree with every idea I had, but at least listen to some of them.

I just gave you $3 million, the least you can do is act like I exist.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 11:21 am

Angry UConn booster wants a refund

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Hell hath no fury like a booster scorned.

Robert Burton donated $3 million to UConn to fund The Burton Family Football Complex in Storrs. Burton is a printing industry executive who has lived in Greenwich for over 30 years, and has donated over $7 million to the football program in that time. Well, now he wants that $3 million for the football complex back, and he'd like his name taken off of it as well. It seems that Mr. Burton is pretty upset with UConn AD Jeff Hathaway not seeking his input when it came to hiring Paul Pasqualoni to replace Randy Edsall.

"The primary reason (former coach) Randy (Edsall) took another job is because he couldn't work with you," Burton wrote in a six-page letter to Hathaway. "You are not qualified to be a Division I AD and I would have fired you a long time ago. You do not have the skills to manage and cultivate new donors."

According to the letter, Burton asked Hathaway to keep him "in the loop" on the coaching search, asking him to do this on January 3. Burton says he never heard from Hathaway again until January 19 when Pasqualoni had already been hired. Burton also said in the letter that he wasn't looking for any kind of "veto power" but the fact that Burton wasn't consulted shows him that Hathaway doesn't respect his "point of view or value my opinion."

Which seems like a pretty big mistake on Hathaway's part, because according to the letter, the $3 million refund isn't the only thing Burton is going to do. He also said he won't be paying for his family's $50,000-a-year luxury suite at Rentschler Field. Burton even said "You already have many other empty boxes at Rentschler. My box will just join the list."

Burton didn't stop there, either. He no longer plans on purchasing an $8,000 ad inside the football program, he's moving all the money he donated for football scholarships to the business school, and Burton will stop an annual $20,000 donation for the school's summer coaching clinic. Oh, and speaking of the UConn business school, any time Burton's business needs to train any of its managers, it'll no longer be sending them to UConn's business school. It'll send them to Syracuse instead.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com