There are many reasons why I would never want to be an athletic director at a major Division I college or university.
And I know which one is at the top of the list: I do not like asking people for money. I could have never sold Girl Scout cookies or insurance for a living.
But things don’t get built on campuses, especially massive athletic infrastructure projects, without people like UConn’s AD Warde Manuel shaking important hands. And if you’ve ever shaken or fist-pumped the big right hand of the former Michigan defensive end, you know its hard to break free from its grip.
Yes, Mr. Manuel. How much was that you needed again? Please don’t sack me.
That is why I wanted to look last week into whether UConn and IMG, which negotiates broadcast, advertising and marketing contracts on behalf of the school, might be thinking outside the box in terms of seeking a big corporate donor who wants to stick its name on the outside of the basketball practice facility sprouting next to Gampel Pavilion.
Last week, I wrote a story for the Courant stating that UConn and IMG were at least thinking about it.
UConn, in a very professional manner, says it has never intended to look beyond the largesse of its many private donors to finance projects like the basketball practice facility,
“The University of Connecticut Division of Athletics and the UConn Foundation have been and continue to solicit gifts for the building of the UConn Basketball Champions Center,” Warde Manuel told the Courant in a statement. “Over the past few years, we have received some incredibly generous gifts from private donors, who care very deeply about UConn and its basketball programs. We continue to actively work to complete the fundraising effort for the Champions Center, but have not been actively speaking to corporations about naming the facility.”
I admire UConn’s loyalty to those who have been loyal to it. Still, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to at least listen if big money – really, really big money – knocks on IMG’s door about having its name placed in neon on the building,
I don’t think Peter Werth, Mark Shenkman, the Burton Family or others who have donated so much to the school would be insulted by that touch of capitalistic initiative.
But like I said, I never have liked asking people for money and I’m not going to start advising those who do it for a living how to set their boundaries.