It is a turbulent time for the University of Connecticut athletics. The Big East is eroding ever so quickly, and UConn does not seem eager to make a move for survival. After losing out on a bid to the ACC, the direction of the athletic program must be taken into question. So let’s look at the facts:
Many factors were taken into consideration for a potential new member of the ACC. Of these, arguably football success and reputation, athletic program aggressiveness, television market, and academics came to the forefront. The frontrunners for the position, UConn and Louisville were two very good candidates.
What put Louisville into the ACC was their football program and their athletic program’s aggressive nature. To add to the issue, Rutger’s recent football success landed them a spot in the Big 10 last month. Louisville and Rutgers, led by two young, vibrant head coaches, are on their way to 10 win seasons and bowl games. UConn has stumbled to its second consecutive losing seasons and head coach Paul Pasqualoni has been on the hot seat throughout the season. The distinction is quite clear.
Furthermore, Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich had said, “I felt that I had the whole city on my shoulders.” Likewise, Louisville president James Ramsey knew this decision would impact the school’s athletic success and future. This was not the case with UConn. While Jurich and Ramsey were campaigning and promoting Louisville, UConn president Susan Herbst and athletic director Warde Manuel were sitting by the phone, twiddling their thumbs. Perhaps they know a greener field is on the other side? We will never know.
In combination with the lost ACC bid, more troubling times are confronting the University of Connecticut athletic program. Recently, there has been speculation that the 7 Big East Catholic schools (Marquette, Seton Hall, St. Johns, Villanova, Providence, Georgetown, and DePaul) are talking about breaking away the Big East Conference. To go where? Rumors have stated everything from creating their own Catholic conference to joining the Atlantic 10 Conference, who does not have BCS-level football.
Where will this leave UConn? Although it may seem like a longshot, hopes are high for an invitation to the Big 10, but that offer may never come. The ACC may lose more schools, including Florida State and Virginia Tech. Perhaps this will open a spot for UConn. Whatever the circumstances, one thing is certain. President Herbst and athletic director Manuel should be promoting the school’s athletic programs. This is what sells the school to another conference. Merely sitting by a phone does nothing to help the school. Proactivity is necessary in this dark time for UConn athletics.