Herbst Wants UConn in Big East Tourney

Susan Herbst_on tuition hike

To quote the great philosopher/singer Stephen Stills, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with." (We can testify with 100 percent certainty that this is the first time -- ever -- we've written that sentence.) We were reminded of this after the ACC spurned UConn for Louisville as its latest member, and the Huskies were left to figure out their next move.

And given that their options are limited, they may have to get creative. ESPN's Darren Rovell offered up some suggestions last week. In the meantime, university president Susan Herbst is attending to more pressing matters. Like trying to get the Huskies back in the Big East Tournament after the NCAA banned the UConn men's basketball team from postseason play for its low Academic Progress Rate (APR).

"As everyone knows, we do not agree with the retroactive punishment of the current team," Herbst said Monday via the Hartford Courant. "Our APR is fabulous now. In 2010-2011 it was 978. The 2011-2012 APR doesn't get announced until June, but it's going to be right in that same area. Obviously, we've turned the program around. Our current kids, as with our national championship team in 2011, are not an issue. They've done what they needed to do academically. They didn't cause the problem."

It's a fair point, and one Jim Calhoun emphasized for the first half of the year as the NCAA was deciding UConn's fate. On the other hand, Calhoun's responsible for the program even getting to this point (and, to his credit, he admits as much).

"We definitely feel we should be in the Big East Tournament," Herbst continued. "Not only have our students earned it, we think it's a great moment for camaraderie and solidarity for the Big East. We've taken our losses. We're moving on. We want to build a strong conference. UConn has been vital to it since the start. We want to make that tournament a success and I think we're needed there."

Again, it's hard to argue with any of this. And while the NCAA isn't likely to change its mind, they've left it up to individual conferences to decide the parameters of postseason play. Put differently: if the Big East decides that UConn can compete in the Big East Tournament, the Huskies are in; there's no need to get the NCAA's approval.

"We think the conference should show solidarity and collegiality and needs to support its members," said Herbst. "They should all re-examine it. We made our appeals. We made great arguments. We've made them regardless of conference realignment, but with our losses to the Big East we need all hands on deck. Show we're a great conference. I've been stating this case all along. It's taking on urgency now."

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