Author Archives: Dom Amore

From The Cabinet: Coaches’ Bonuses Should Be Tied To Academics

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WASHINGTON – Having gotten to the White House briefing room early, I attended a presser with the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

Duncan, 50, was captain of the Harvard basketball team, and an academic All-American, and later played pro basketball in Australia.

So his thoughts on college basketball are certainly relevant, on the day the UConn men and women were honored at the White House, and Duncan was asked Monday about the NCAA and various issues being debated right now.

Just passing it along :

  

“… I do think student athletes, again, should not just be going to the institution to make millions of dollars for the institution and have no degree to show for it.  And I grew up playing with a lot of basketball players back home on the South Side of Chicago who did exactly that – didn’t quite make the NBA, came home, had nothing to show for it and had very tough lives.  And that was something that’s sort of indelibly marked from my experience.

      So making sure young people have a chance – yes, to play, but to be students first, athletes second, and holding universities accountable for that; having them have the chance to come back and earn their diploma at some point if they need to do that; and looking at sort of their long-term medical needs, or whatever. I think there’s some commonsense middle ground that folks can and should get to.

… Where I challenge universities and challenge university presidents and athletic directors and coaches, where [athletes] are being used to generate revenue for the coach and his salary; where they’re being used to generate revenue for the university, and no sense is given to the importance of their academic success – it is absolutely using, and I would say abusing those young men and women. 

     And the most important thing – if they can get that college degree, that changes their life forever.  We know a tiny, tiny percent make a nickel professionally.  They get that college degree,they have this huge opportunity in front of them.  If they don’t have that, if they compete for a couple years and go back to the streets with nothing, they have absolutely been used [by the college] and that’s not acceptable.

     We challenged the NCAA a couple years ago to raise college graduation rates in order to compete in the NCAA.  We got that through, they were very good about that.  Continue reading

From The White House: Transcript of the President’s Remarks On UConn

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WASHINGTON – The small group of musicians, members of the United States Marine Band, played the UConn fight song, and members of the national champions, the UConn men’s and women’s basketball teams, entered the East Room of the White House. They took their places on the risers, Stefanie Dolson precariously near the edge.

Then the president was announced at 4:24 p.m.. President Barack Obama entered and took the podium. From the office of the White House press secretary, Here is the full transcriopt of his remarks Monday:

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     THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)  Everybody, have a seat, have a seat.  I’ve just got a few things to say here.  Welcome to the White House, first of all. 

     AUDIENCE:  Thank you.  (Laughter.)   

     THE PRESIDENT:  You’re pleased to be here, aren’t you?  (Laughter.)  I think we should give it up for the men’s and women’s national college basketball champions, the Connecticut Huskies!  (Applause.)  Now, I have to say that, as President, one of my goals has been to eliminate waste and cut out duplicative programs to make things a little more efficient, but this might be carrying things a little too far.  (Laughter.) 

     We have, as you might expect, some big Huskies fans here today, including some outstanding members of Congress.  I also want to recognize your university president, Susan Herbst — (applause) — your athletic director, Warde Manuel, and Larry McHugh, the chairman of your board of trustees.  Give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.)  And of course, you’ve got a couple of great coaches in what I called when we were meeting back there the grizzled veteran, Geno Auriemma — (laughter) — and the new blood, Kevin Ollie, both in the house.  (Applause.)  I can make that joke now that I’ve got gray hair.  (Laughter.)  

     Only once before, in 2004, has one school won both the men’s and women’s Division I titles.  And of course, that was who? 

     AUDIENCE:  UConn.

     THE PRESIDENT:  It was UConn.  This is the women’s ninth national title, more than any other women’s basketball team in history.  (Applause.)  For the men, it is their fourth title in the last 16 years, which is twice as many as anybody else during that same span of time.  (Applause.)  Which makes me think, what’s up with you guys?  Why aren’t you sharing?  It is just a remarkable thing what these two programs have accomplished. 

      Of course, this season the women went a perfect 40-0, won their games by an average of 34 points — so there was not a lot of suspense during their season.  (Laughter.)  In a championship game billed as one of the biggest in women’s basketball history, the Huskies routed the previously unbeaten Notre Dame — and gave me bragging rights — it gave me bragging rights to pick them in my bracket.  This was not hard.  (Laughter.)  I mean, me and 95 percent of the country.  And this marked the 5th time that UConn has finished a season as undefeated national champion. 

 

     Of course, a lot of this success belongs to Coach Geno, who has cemented his place as not only a legend in women’s basketball, but one of the best coaches that we’ve ever seen at any level and any sport, period.  (Applause.)  So we are grateful to have you.  Congratulations.  (Applause.) 

 

But I think Coach Auriemma would be the first to tell you that the credit goes to the players.  And these were just some outstanding young ladies.  You’ve got Breanna Stewart named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player two years in a row.  You’ve got Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who overcame injury and illness during the season, and came up big — as she is prone to do — during the tournament.  You’ve got Stefanie Dolson and Bria Hartley, who went on to become top-10 picks in the WNBA draft. 

And Stefanie, I did not forget that you challenged me to a dance-off last year.  It is going to happen.  It is going to happen.  (Laughter and applause.)  Don’t think that I — don’t think that you’re going to beat me on that.  (Laughter.)  I also appreciate that you told the world about it after the title game.  I have daughters in junior high and high school, and for their sake, I will not be dancing too much while the cameras are around.  (Laughter.) 

     Now, I also have to confess, I did not pick the men to win in my bracket.  (Laughter.)  Of course, neither did anybody else unless you went to UConn.  (Laughter.)  Look at these guys, they’re all raising their hand.  (Laughter.)  Come on now, tell the truth.  We were not counting on Shabazz Napier leading the way as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and hitting big shot after big shot and locking down the perimeter defensively.  The Huskies also had huge contributions from guys like Ryan Boatright, DeAndre Daniels, and Neils Giffey, who’s not here because he’s playing overseas. 

After the tournament wins over Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State, Florida, and Kentucky, UConn became the first seven-seed ever to win the title.  (Applause.)   And afterwards, Coach Ollie said, “Somebody told me we were Cinderellas” and I said, “no, we’re UConn” — that’s “what we do, bred to cut down nets.”  That’s Coach Ollie.  He’s always confident and calm and collected.  In fact, a sportswriter once referred to him as “our future President.”  (Laughter.)  I don’t know with a name like “Kevin” whether that’s possible.  (Laughter and applause.)  But who knows, anything could happen. 

     Now, Coach Ollie is doing one other important thing — he’s making sure his team hits the books as hard as they hit the boards.  And this season, both the men and the women ranked among the nation’s best academically and that’s worth applauding. (Applause.)

 

     Both teams have also done tremendous work in the community.  They’ve raised awareness for cancer and autism.  They’ve volunteered at senior centers, spent time with underprivileged youth.  Coach Ollie and Coach Auriemma spoke at the Pentagon last month as part of our Hoops for Troops program.  And last year, after the tragedy in Newtown, the men put on a clinic for kids at a local rec center — and they asked the media to keep it under wraps so the kids could just have a good time. 

 

     Finally, I want to take a moment to single out the women here, because I could not be more proud of the example that they present for my daughters.  They’re showing that just like the boys, girls can be tough, athletic, beautiful, successful, competitive and make fun of me, which is what my daughters do all the time.  (Laughter.)  So thank you guys for the outstanding example.  (Applause.) 

 

Congratulations to your championship Huskies.  (Applause.)  And this really isn’t goodbye probably, because I suspect I’ll see some of these folks again before I leave office.  So let’s strike the podium.  We’ll take some good pictures.  Come on.  And I know we’ve got some jersey presentations here.  Where’s my jersey?  (Laughter.)  

 

Bittersweet Farewells: Notes, Quotes From Outside The White House

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 WASHINGTON – After the UConn men’s and women’s teams were honored by President Obama in the East Room of the White House, they spoke for a few minutes in what they call the “stake out area,” outside the West Wing.

It was the first chance to catch up with DeAndre Daniels, since he announced his decision to leave UConn on April 25 and go to into the NBA Draft.

Daniels:

“It’s great to go out on top, win a national championship, and great to come here. But it’s another sad part. I definitely did not want to leave UConn, but I had to [make] the best decision. Just moving forward and take this whole process. I’m ready to make the next step in my life.”

“[After] sitting down with my family and the coaching staff and trying to figure out what was the best situation for me, me and my family kind of felt it was the best decision for me to leave.”

Daniels said he’s had seven workouts for NBA teams, and has seven more to go. Next up is Cleveland. He flew back to Connecticut on Sunday to be able to join his former teammates for the trip to Washington.

“I’m just enjoying this whole process,” he said. “It’s tough doing all this flying, all these workouts back to back, but this is basketball, this is what I signed up for.”

Shabazz Napier is going through the same process, with the draft a little more than two weeks away, on June 26.

“I’m just kind of taking it in stride. Not looking for best feedback. No, it’s never about [where you ate picked]. At the end of the day the point is to put myself in the best position possible. Continue to work hard and do the things I’ve done that got me here.”

As the players were leaving the East Room, Napier said, The President whispered to him that there is room for him on the Bulls, which is Obama’s favorite team.

 

At the podium, Obama lauded Kevin Ollie for having his team “hit the books as hard as they hit the boards.”

 

From Ollie:

“That’s what we want for our identity, coach Calhoun wanted that same identity. We want to go out and try to be special people, not just on the basketball court but in the classroom, being special in what we have to do. That’s what those guys do, it’s what makes them great student athletes and makes me proud to be their coach.

… President Obama is a person that always responds with courage and these are the kinds of things I tell them in practices, being steady in games, responding to adversity. President Obama does those things, and his humility, you see that each and every time he speaks he is always thanking others. That’s what we want our kids to understand each and every day they walk on our campus, when we are away visiting another team – it’s what they represent. They are doing a wonderful job of it so far.

… Growing up in Crenshaw, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be in the presence of the president of the United States, shaking his hand, doing the things I’ve been able to do. But it’s real simple, it’s w-o-r-k. When you work and do it the right way, great things happen to you, opportunities happen to you, doors open that you didn’t [think of], but you create it by doing everything right. That’s what we pride ourselves on.

And our guys looked sharp today. That brings a smile to my face, to see them in ties, representing the University, but also representing their parents and where they come from. It was a beautiful day. This is going to be the last time this group is going to be together and it’s sad, but also good, because it was a great group and a great time that we were able to perform throughout the season.”

(Updated) Report: Diamond Stone, But Not Malik Newman Making Unofficial Visit To UConn This Weekend [Scout.com]

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The “package deal” continues to be a target for UConn. The package includes a big man, Diamond Stone, from Milwaukee, and Malik Newman, a combo-guard from Jackson, Ms., who have expressed interest in choosing a college together. Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels originally reported, via Twitter:

“Diamond Stone tells me he is taking an unofficial visit to Connecticut with Malik Newman this weekend.”.

However, it now appears it will just be Stone. More from Daniels:

 “Just received a text message from Malik Newman in regards to visiting UConn this weekend: “I was, but I can’t now.” … It looks like it will be just Diamond Stone at UConn this weekend. Still a big deal for Kevin Ollie …”

Either way, it is, indeed, a positive development. UConn has invested a lot of time with both, considered  “five star” recruits, including in-home visits this spring. Kevin Ollie also squeezed in a trip to Milwaukee last season to see Stone play. They are both rated near the very top of the 2015 recruiting class, so if the Huskies were to land both, to go along with Will Jackson, they would be in excellent shape there.

Newman, 6-foot-3, and Stone, 6-10, became close friends playing on USA Basketball’s under-16 team in Uruguay last summer. Here’s a nice read on their relationship from the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

 

Another guard/big duo visited UConn earlier this week, guard Jalen Adams from Boston, who came to First Night last year, and big man Josh Sharma, 7-0, from Northfield Mt.Hermon. They are teammates on Rivals Basketball Club in New Hampshire.

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On another front, freshman Daniel Hamilton and Rakim Lubin are expected to start classes at UConn on June 30. I had the wrong date here the other day, my bad.

 

 

 

UConn Men, Women To Be Honored at White House on Monday

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UConn’s dual national champions, the men’s and women’s basketball teams, will have their day at the White House next Monday.

President Obama will welcome the Huskies, assuming the usual visit and tour will ensue, with ceremonies at 4:05 p.m.

We imagine there will be no “bunny ears” this time, but one never knows.

“This visit will continue a tradition begun by President Obama of honoring sports teams for their efforts to give back to their communities,” read the White House release. (The date has been finalized, but, of course, anything concerning a president’s schedule is tentative.)

Sam Cassell Jr. Arrives; Daniel Hamilton, Rakim Lubin Expected In Storrs June 20

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Daniel Hamilton says, via Twitter, of course, that he will be coming to UConn for the next session of summer classes, which begins in about three weeks.

“I’m going to be in Storrs in 22 days from now, y’all,” Hamilton tweeted on Monday morning.

The first session of summer classes begins this week. Sam Cassell Jr., another Huskies newcomer, is on campus. When Hamilton, the top-rated recruit, played in the Jordan Brand Classic in New York in April, he said he planned to be in Storrs on June 2. But he will be playing in a pro-am league in Los Angeles next week. He graduated last week from John Bosco High in Bellflower, Calif.

Hamilton’s arrival at UConn is more of an issue than it would normally be, because he has not signed a binding National Letter of Intent, but a financial aid agreement. His brother, Isaac, signed an NLOI with Texas-El Paso and was not allowed to transfer without sitting a year, so Daniel Hamilton did not want to sign a binding letter. Once he comes to UConn and enrolls, that becomes irrelevant.

He has never wavered publically in his intention to come to UConn. He said in April that it was contingent on Kevin Ollie being there. Now that Ollie has a new five-year contract, that concern is gone.

UConn has a special summer session starting on June 20; that’s apparently what Hamilton meant. Rakim Lubin, UConn’s other incoming freshman, has signed an NLOI and is expected to arrive when Hamilton does, on June 20.

Cassell Jr, the son of the longtime NBA point guard, is coming in from JuCo, Florida’s Chipola College and getting acclimated in Storrs.

The American Conference States Its Position …

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The American Athletic Conference wrapped up its meetings in Florida on Friday, and put out a statement on NCAA governance reform, and other issues. Here it is, in its entirety:

 

“The student-athletes at our member institutions compete and succeed at the highest level and benefit from the significant investments we are making in our men’s and women’s athletic programs, including infrastructure and facilities. Our Conference enjoyed unprecedented success during our inaugural season, highlighted by UCF’s BCS Tostitos Fiesta Bowl victory and UConn’s NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. We established ourselves as one of the premier conferences in America.

“We continue to support the NCAA governance redesign process and are committed to enhancing our student-athlete experience by embracing full cost of attendance, academic and professional support, and health and safety initiatives, among other items.

“As this process continues, we support the idea of making all autonomous legislation permissive, and we are examining the proposed areas of autonomy to determine if any are more appropriate for shared governance.

 “The American continues to be supportive of governance reform and the work of the NCAA Steering Committee. We appreciate the opportunity to address issues and concerns with the Steering Committee during the comment period and look forward to a successful NCAA restructuring that will serve the needs of our student-athletes and our institutions in the years to come.”

 

Prince Ali ‘Reopens Recruitment;’ No Longer Committed to UConn

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UConn hasn’t had a player de-commit in a while, and it seems a little odd that a player would do so within a few weeks of the Huskies winning a national championship. But Prince Ali, the guard from Florida who was UConn’s first get from the Class of 2015, backed out on Thursday.

Ali tweeted the following:

“After talking it over with my family, I have decided to reopen my recruitment! I still love UConn and I am still considering UConn!”

Born in the Bronx, Ali, a 6-foot-4 guard, has said he has been a UConn fan all his life. He made an oral commitment in November 2013.

After the Huskies made it to the Final Four, Ali told the Miami Herald on April 2:

“I am happy for UConn and coach Ollie after everything they have been through,” Ali said. “When I committed early people were asking me why UConn. They faced a ban and there was talk if their seniors were going to stay. Well it turns out like I made a great decision.”

Ali did not give a reason for his change of heart Thursday, and UConn folks cannot comment on recruits who have not signed a letter of intent or financial aid agreement.

But one might speculate that Ali decided he committed too early, and now wants to explore other options as his senior year approaches. Or, perhaps, he is concerned about UConn’s numbers in the backcourt the next few years. Ryan Boatright will Continue reading

An Evening With Jim Calhoun in Hartford, June 27

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Jim Calhoun will be honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Arthritis Foundation of New England on June 27 at the Marriott in downtown Hartford. Want to pass along some details here:

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The Arthritis Foundation New England Region and Honorary Co-Chairs, I. Bradley Hoffman, Hoffman Auto Group and Joseph Savage, Webster Bank, will host An Evening with Hall of Fame Coach Jim Calhoun on Friday, June 27 at the Marriott Downtown Hartford.  Webster Bank and Hoffman Lexus join together to present Coach Calhoun with the Arthritis Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

This event will feature cocktail reception, dinner and an in-person interviewing of Calhoun by “The Voice of the UConn Huskies”, Joe D’Ambrosio. The event will also feature a high-end live and silent auction.

For more information, sponsorship package, purchase individual tickets or make a donation information, please contact the Arthritis Foundation at 860-781-7776.

Schedule:

6 – 7:30 pm | Registration, Cocktail Reception and Silent Auction

7:30 – 9:30 pm | Award Presentation, Coach Calhoun Interview and Arthritis Foundation Program

Highlights of Kevin Ollie’s New Contract With UConn …

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Below is a summary of Kevin Ollie’s new five-year, $16 million contract with UConn, as sent out by the school Thursday afternoon. The full document is quite long, of course. Lot of interesting things here, but note the buyout terms. Ollie would have to pay $5 million if he left in 2014-14, then $4 million, then it goes to $1 million.

Here it is:

CONTRACT PERIOD: The term of the contract is June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2019.

SALARY/SPEAKING AND MEDIA APPEARANCES: The contract calls for an annual base salary, as well as, annual payments for institutional speaking and media appearances.

The following is a year-by-year summary of those payments:

Period Base Salary Speaking and Media Fees Total

June 1, 2014-May 31, 2015 $400,000 $2,400,000 $2,800,000

June 1, 2015-May 31, 2016 $400,000 $2,500,000 $2,900,000

June 1, 2016-May 31, 2017 $400,000 $2,600,000 $3,000,000

June 1, 2017-May 31, 2018 $400,000 $2,700,000 $3,100,000

June 1, 2018-May 31, 2019 $400,000 $2,800,000 $3,200,000

NOTE: No General Fund (state tax dollars) or tuition monies were used to provide any of the resources for this contract. The Division of Athletics at the University of Connecticut is an Auxiliary Service Fund entity and the sources of revenue include: gate receipts, private fundraising, corporate partnerships, television/radio rights, conference revenues and NCAA revenues.

AUTOMOBILE ALLOWANCE: The Coach will receive an annual car allowance in the amount of $15,000 to be paid on a bi-weekly basis.

SUMMER CAMPS/CLINICS: The Coach may organize and direct basketball camps or clinics utilizing University dormitories, dining halls, athletics facilities and other campus facilities, at the rates and fees published by the University’s Conference Services Office. Coach Ollie may also organize and direct basketball camps or clinics located off the University’s campus. All camps and clinics run by the Coach shall be owned and operated by the Coach.

ENDORSEMENT CONTRACTS: Any consulting, endorsement or outside income activity performed by the Coach shall be consistent with the University consulting policy. Personal endorsement agreement must be consistent with the University’s agreement with IMG and compliant with all University policies and all Connecticut state statutes.

TICKETS: The University will provide the Coach with twenty (20) tickets for personal use and purchase privileges for up to ten (10) additional tickets for all home, away, conference tournament and post-season men’s basketball events while serving as Head Men’s Basketball Coach. The University will provide the Coach with twenty (20) tickets in a suite and five (5) parking passes for personal use for all home football games at Rentschler Field while serving as Head Men’s Basketball Coach. The Coach will be responsible for all costs associated with food and beverage service in the suite and no such costs shall be regarded as subject to reimbursement. Also, the Coach will be entitled to receive four (4) tickets for all other UConn home athletic events.

COUNTRY CLUB: The University shall pay the current fee categories for an annual family membership at a country club approved by the athletic director.

COMPENSATION FOR SERVICES AND PERFORMANCE: The Coach will receive one month of base salary for winning a conference regular season championship; one month of base salary for winning a conference post-season tournament championship; one month of base salary for participation in the NCAA tournament; one month of base salary for participation in the NCAA Sweet 16; one month of base salary for participation in the NCAA Elite Eight; one month of base salary for participation the NCAA Final Four; three month of base salary for winning the NCAA national championship; one-half month of base salary for winning a conference and/or national coach of the year award; a $5,000 payment for each academic semester with a team grade point average of 2.8 or above; a $10,000 payment for each year with an APR score of 930 or above.

BUYOUT: If the Coach accepts a position as a Head Coach of men’s basketball at an NCAA Division I institution, the following will be due to the University from the Coach: $5,000,000 in 2014-15; $4,000,000 in 2015-16; $3,000,000 in 2016-17; $2,000,000 in 2017-18 and 2018-19. If the Coach accepts a position as a Head Coach or Assistant Coach in the NBA, the following will be due to the University from the Coach: $5,000,000 in 2014-15; $4,000,000 in 2015-16; $1,000,000 in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.