Academic Shortcomings Could Cost Calhoun

Late last month, a few days before the Huskies faced Kentucky in the Final Four, we wrote a post about just how lucrative the NCAA Tournament can be, especially for the coaches who successfully navigate their team's through March Madness. 

Performance bonuses take on a whole new meaning; Kentucky coach John Calipari racked up $325,000 in postseason incentives and Jim Calhoun was due $145,782 ($58,333 for making the Final Four and another $87,499 for winning the national championship). That's on top of Calhoun's annual salary of $2.3 million ($350,000 base in addition to speaking and media fees).

Whenever the topic of million-dollar salaries, big-time athletics, and public funding for universities comes up, taxpayers become understandably upset. It's hard to comprehend paying any state employee such a staggering amount, particularly one who doesn't generate jobs, build schools or fix roads.

Fair enough. And while this won't allay the concerns of everyone, some people will take solace in recent developments (via the New Haven Register's David Borges):

Calhoun is expected to have to return his postseason bonus and make a contribution to the university’s general fund if the Academic Progress Rate for the program does not meet NCAA standards.

Based on the new contract Calhoun signed last May, he was set to receive $87,499 -- three month's salary -- for winning the national title. Turns out, Calhoun might have to give back the money.

"…The contract also stipulates that such a payment would only be made 'if the Academic Progress Rate (APR) ... for the men’s basketball team has been satisfactorily met,' Borges wrote Friday. "UConn should learn in a few weeks whether it meets APR standards, but it’s a virtual certainty that the program will fall short of the standard score of 925."

You can read the whole contract here.

But it gets worse; In addition to missing out on his national championship bonus, Calhoun, according to how his contract is written, would also have to donate $100,000 to UConn's general scholarship fund if the men's program doesn't meet the APR standards. That means, as Borges notes, that Calhoun would be out $187,500.

Even in context, ($187,500 works out to about 12 percent of Calhoun's annual salary) it probably hurts to write that check. That said, I don't think anybody -- Calhoun, the university or the taxpayers -- will complain about the donation, although it does raise questions about the academic shortcomings in the men's program.

In mid-March, days before the NCAA Tournament kicked off, Inside Higher Ed released their Academic Performance Tournament, which they described as "…our take on what the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament would look like if teams advanced based on their outcomes in the classroom."

At the time we wrote, "The results, while interesting, don't shine a particularly flattering light on UConn, who gets knocked out in the first round by Bucknell. The Hartford Courant reports that of the 68 schools in this year's tournament, UConn's multi-year APR of 930 ranked 56th. Ratings below 925 can lead to penalties that include the loss of scholarships."

So the academic issues on the men's team isn't anything new. It's just that now Calhoun is having to pay for it out of his own pocket.

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