Now you can make a choice

Fans used the word "sellouts" frequently Wednesday in the wake of UConn's decision to send its women's basketball telecasts to SportsNet New York (SNY), ending its 18-year relationship with Connecticut Public Television. They mean to say UConn "sold out" to the corporate monolith.

I believe that's untrue and unfair.

UConn made a cold-blooded business decision.

Now it's time for you to make yours.

Because that's the only way you can truly convey your distaste, if, in fact, you have any.

Perhaps some of you agree with UConn's decision. Perhaps some are ambivalent. But to those who sent all the angry emails and phone calls my way all day Wednesday: Angry phone calls and emails stop eventually. What endures, however, is your business decision to spend your money elsewhere.

But do you have the will power?

Example: SNY, while part of all the state's cable systems, isn't part of every cable system's basic package. You may have to upgrade (and pay more) next year to watch the games.

Are you outraged enough about this to resist?

Example: If it's time to renew your season tickets or contribute more to donor-based seating, are you outraged enough about this to not renew? To not give more money? To give less money? No money? Are you outraged enough to tell them why?

Example: Do you know someone who gives big bucks to the university? Would you tell them to give less, or give none, in the wake of UConn's business decision?

The answers to all these questions are somewhere between "probably not" and "not really."

But if you're truly outraged, you will make your business decision based on theirs. That's how your voice will be heard.

I believe UConn's business decision was made for two reasons: 1) Another footprint into the New York media market gives UConn more appeal to the Atlantic Coast Conference (as the Big East crumbles); 2) President Susan Herbst wants little to do with any methods of doing business that existed upon her arrival.

Neither should be dismissed. Positioning the university for the future is part of Herbst's responsibility. Meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss.

Here is where I disagree with her: I believe in loyalty before I believe in anything else. Perhaps some of you believe the Berlin Wall stands between the concepts of business and loyalty. Plenty of evidence to support that. I believe a few chunks of that wall crumble, occasionally, leaving room for loyalty.

Such as an 18-year working relationship with a Connecticut-based company largely supported by your fan base.

And while I understand the appeal of SNY's increased exposure, I ask this: Given that men's basketball and football are on SNY already, does the addition of women's basketball, a niche sport outside state borders, provide enough "wow" factor to justify ending an 18-year relationship?

Think about that. Eighteen years. The relationship is old enough to vote.

I asked UConn alums Renee Montgomery and Kalana Greene, now members of the Connecticut Sun, their opinions at Wednesday's practice.

Renee: "My family didn't live in Connecticut and CPTV gave them a web site that allowed my family to watch the games live. I'm very close with (CPTV executive producer) Harriet Unger. She is close with my family. I've grown to know people at CPTV. They gave people a chance to watch the games who maybe couldn't afford it or couldn't get out.

"Now that I'm a professional, it's easier to understand business. People got cut here (Tuesday). One was a really good friend. People say you need to be loyal. There's a fine line between loyalty and business. But I'm very glad I had CPTV when I was there."

Kalana: "It's sad. CPTV was with UConn women's basketball from the start. They made it accessible to everyone. I'm sure the university had their reasons. When it comes to business, there's not much of a loyalty thing. It's business. There are new people in charge up there that probably think it was best.

"But when you think of UConn women's basketball, you think of CPTV. We were synonymous. Hopefully after four years, we can get them back. They're one of the main reasons UConn women's basketball is as big as it is."

Perhaps through irony or coincidence, the Sun are about to announce a deal with CPTV and its new sports wing, CPTV Sports, to televise many games this summer.

If you are seriously considering your business decision, remember this: There is no donor-based seating at Mohegan Sun Arena. Free parking. Competitive games. Scores of shops and restaurants under one roof. No more remote of a drive than Storrs.

The new deal with CPTV will make the Sun more of a "Connecticut" team today than they were yesterday.

Can the same be said of the UConn women?

Food for thought.

As you make your business decision.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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