Sources: UConn negotiating buyout with Hathaway

UConn president Susan Herbst is working on a deal to negotiate athletic director Jeff Hathaway's departure, university and athletic department sources said Saturday.

Hathaway, who operates under a six-year, rollover contract (through 2017) with a base salary of $351,717, will receive a buyout. Once the parties reach an agreeable monetary figure, the sources said, Hathaway will leave the job he's had for the last eight years.

The process could take "a few weeks" and likely longer, according to one of the sources, who said it is doubtful Hathaway will be the athletic director by the time classes begin in September. The sources had no knowledge of potential candidates for Hathaway's successor.

State media outlets reported in recent days that Hathaway's job has come under serious scrutiny. The Journal-Inquirer of Manchester first reported an outside firm interviewed key athletic department personnel, including coaches, about Hathaway's job performance and the overall state of the athletic department.

The firm's interviews, according to report, suggested that Hathaway's shortcomings as athletic director are numerous, including micromanagement and an inability to make timely decisions, such as with hirings and contract issues.

But Hathaway's most serious deficiencies, the sources said, centered primarily on fundraising revenues in consistent decline and a lack of attention paid to NCAA compliance. In both cases, the sources said, Hathaway failed to hire experienced replacements for former athletic fundraiser Paul Pendergast and former compliance director Bill Shults.

The sources said that Herbst is taking NCAA compliance with the utmost seriousness, given the recent transgressions of the men's basketball program. UConn's compliance staff now has four full-time staffers (it previously had only two). By comparison, Ohio State has eight (six full-time members and two interns) and Tennessee has five full-time employees.

The new athletic director's performance will be graded heavily on compliance, the sources said.

Schults left UConn in 2007 to become Florida International University's Special Assistant to the General Counsel for NCAA Compliance.

Pendergast left UConn in 2006 for a similar fundraising post at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford. The position at UConn had not been filled until Herbst wrested all fundraising duties away from Hathaway, hiring Zachary Goines as senior director development of athletics with the understanding that Goines would report to UConn Foundation.

Attempts to reach Herbst and Hathaway were unsuccessful.

Hathaway is scheduled to be the chairman of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee this season.

Hathaway succeeded Lew Perkins as UConn's athletic director in 2003. Hathaway, once Perkins' assistant at UConn, came to Storrs from Colorado State, where he was athletic director from 2001-03. In his tenure, UConn has won several national championships in men's and women's basketball, including both in the same season (2004).

Moreover, in the past school year the men's basketball team won its third NCAA title, the women's basketball team reached another Final Four, the football program earned its first Bowl Championship Series berth and the baseball team made the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time.

Hathaway also helped the school reach an agreement with multi-media giant IMG Worldwide that is worth a reported $80 million over 10 years.

m.dimauro@theday.com

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