Donor Roughs Up School Over Football Coach Choice

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January 25, 2011; Source: New York Times | It's the equivalent of being so upset you're quitting the game and taking your ball home. At least on the surface that's how it looks at the University of Connecticut where Robert G. Burton, a major donor to the school's football program, is asking the university not only to return a $3 million gift but also to remove his name from a building there.

Burton, chief executive of Burton Capital Management of Greenwich, Conn., wants to penalize the school because he doesn't like its choice of Paul Pasqualoni, formerly of Syracuse, as Connecticut's new head football coach. Angered that he wasn't consulted about the choice, Burton blasted the university's athletic director, Jeff Hathaway, in a letter he sent last week.

He wrote: “You are not qualified to be a Division I A.D. and I would have fired you a long time ago. You do not have the skills to manage and cultivate new donors.” To that last point, Burton claimed he tried several times to contact Hathaway about the search for a new football head but he only heard back after Pasqualoni was named to the job.

According to the New York Times, Burton has given $7 million to the school, including $2.5 million for his name to be placed on the football complex. In a statement, the University said it took Burton's concerns into account, along with comments and suggestions from other donors, as well as fans and alumni. It also defended the selection process as "very thoughtful and thorough." Surely the university must be feeling that Burton's anger qualifies as unnecessary roughness.—Bruce Trachtenberg