Jeff Hathaway’s career as an athletic administrator has exposed him to many of the aspects of Division I athletics, places where football is king, where basketball reigns, and ultimately, where administrative changes and internal politics can quickly turn things sour. Now there is a new challenge for the former UConn athletic director.
Less than a year after his resigned his position under pressure in Storrs, Hathaway was named vice president and athletic director at Hofstra University, a Division I school in the Colonial Athletic Conference – and one without a football team since 2009.
“We know we are not in the business of the minor-league for professional leagues,” Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz said Tuesday. “We are first and foremost a university with the goal of educating our students, whether they are athletes or not.”
“I am thrilled to be here,” Hathaway said Tuesday. “I had a chance last night to reflect on what it means to come here. It also gives you pause to reflect about where you have been and the roads you have traveled.”
Hathaway received a five-year contract and will begin his new job in June. He takes over for Danny McCabe, Hofstra’s interim athletic director, who will remain on as an executive associate at the school. Hathaway said he met with his coaches Tuesday.
“I shared with them my feelings and expectations,” Hathaway said. “For me it is plain and simple. I like to keep everything short and sweet, to the point. I’ve focused on three goals for my student-athletes; get your degree, compete and have the ability to achieve in your sport at the highest level and prepare our students to be leaders once they graduate.”
Hathaway has spent the last 13 years as a high-level administrator, beginning as a trusted assistant to Lew Perkins, UConn’s former AD, from 1990-2001. Hathaway left UConn to become AD at Colorado State until replacing Perkins when he left in 2003 for Kansas.
“I have always known Jeff Hathaway to be a man of character,’” said Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma’s vice president of intercollegiate athletics. “He has a tenacious work ethic, an innate ability to establish the right vision, mission and values for the organization he leads and a collaborative style to appropriately involve all stakeholders in the process of setting goals and creating the means to achieve them. At the heart of it all is a passionate commitment to creating the best possible environment for student athlete success. Hofstra University made a wonderful decision in hiring Jeff.”
Hathaway said he originally met Rabinowitz in 2004 when one of his associates [former UConn associate AD Jack Hayes] was applying for the position of athletic director at Hofstra.
“I believe this to be a transformative day for Hofstra,” Rabinowitz said. “This is a step forward for us. What it does it confirm the university’s commitment to a nationally recognized and respected athletic program for excellence, integrity and for its concentration on academics and well-being of our students.
“As soon as I hung up the phone with President Rabinowitz, I immediately called Jack and told him, ‘If he offers you the job, take it. This is going to be a great situation. Ironically, eight years later I got the phone call and the job was offered to me.”
Ironcially, it was Hayes’ departure to become AD at Brown that led to Hathaway’s new job.
Hathaway’s time as UConn’s athletic leader, so rich with on-the-field accomplishments, especially in men’s and women’s basketball, began to end once new president Susan Herbst took over.
Problems with fundraising quickly became a sticking point, especially when Hathaway was blasted by top donor, Robert Burton, for not seeking his input in the hiring of Randy Edsall’s successor after he left to coach Maryland. Hathaway hired Paul Pasqualoni, causing Burton, whose money help build the on-campus football facility that bears the family name, to threaten to take back money.
The men’s basketball program, under investigation from the NCAA for recruiting violations involving Nate Miles, was cited for not promoting “an atmosphere of compliance,” causing the loss of scholarships and the suspension of Jim Calhoun for three Big East games this season. It is currently in danger of being illegible for the NCAA and Big East tournaments in 2012-13 because of deficiencies in its APR, the Academic Progress Rate.
At Hofstra, Hathaway will be re-united with two former UConn men’s basketball figures; Pride assistant coach Patrick Sellers and former UConn player Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, who played two years for the Huskies before transferring after the national championship in 2010-11.
Hathaway defended and praised the athletic department’s performance on his watch.
“Along the way, we won some national championships and bowl games,” Hathaway said. “But more importantly, we posted a repeated 99 percent academic retention rate of our student-athletes, nearly 50 percent of which attained a 3.0 [GPA] or higher. We had an outstanding APR in 2010-11, especially our men’s basketball team, that scored a 978. All of it was not solely because of me, but because of our excellent coaches, staff and athletes committed to excellence that brought me along for the ride.”
On Aug. 19, Hathaway and the university reach agreed to a separation agreement that included a buyout worth $700,000. Soon after, Hathaway took an advisory position with the Big Eas
“Jeff was a valuable member of our senior leadership team and led the athletic program to its most successful era,” said Philip Austin, UConn’s president emeritus. “He is committed to not only athletic excellence but also academic excellence, integrity and the overall welfare of student athletes.”
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