3.02.2009

Give 'Em Hell, Coach

Connecticut women's basketball coach Jim Calhoun got in trouble, in the eyes of indignant populist types, at a press conference when some activist/reporter suggested he shouldn't be paid so much ($1.6 million) considering that Connecticut has a $944 million budget deficit.

He is being criticized for rightly rejecting the premise of the stupid question and snapping back at the reporter:
"My best advice to you is, shut up.”

“Quite frankly, we bring in $12 million to the university, nothing to do with state funds,” Calhoun shouted back. “We make $12 million a year for this university. Get some facts and come back and see me. ... Don’t throw out salaries and other things.

“Get some facts and come back and see me. We turn over $12 million to the University of Connecticut, which is state-run. Next question.”
Calhoun had nothing to do with neither the current economic problems nor Connecticut's giant deficit, yet people think he's a bad guy because he makes a lot of money. Additionally, part of this anger seems to be because he was insensitive or something, that being a grave offense these days.

To make this even more ridiculous, Connecticut lawmakers, who are responsible for the giant deficit, and should be the real targets of people's ire, want Calhoun reprimanded:
"Coach Calhoun needs to be reminded that he is a role model for many athletes and students and that his behavior should reflect this position ... His recent behavior was unacceptable, and we request that the university take appropriate disciplinary action to reinforce the high ethical standards we have come to expect from our flagship institution."
I already had a high level of contempt for politicians, but the current economic situation has compounded that many times over. Not only do they keep passing the buck that deserves to stop with them, but they propose the absolute worst responses. And people like Calhoun have to take their abuse. Instead of reducing his pay by a couple hundred thousand dollars, they could easily find a wasteful program to cut, but it's easier to scapegoat.

He's backtracked a little bit since this controversy started, but I hope he doesn't give in any more. He was right.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I was listening to an ESPN podcast that addressed this, and it sounds like A) the people of Connecticut are totally on Calhoun's side, so it wouldn't appeal to anybody's constituency to punish him and B) while he has a point that the deficit isn't his fault and that he brings in money to the school, he was apparently a GIGANTIC jerk about the whole thing. So although he's not the source of anybody else's money problems, his handling of the question was pretty stupid.