UMd. could be sanctuary for UConn athletics director

With University of Maryland Athletic Director Debbie Yow leaving for North Carolina State, potential replacement rumors are running rampant

When she left, Yow recommended University of Connecticut Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway to replace her. UConn spokesman Mike Enright told AOL Fanhouse that Hathaway “is fully engaged with his duties at the University of Connecticut,” noting his travel plans next week for meetings with the NCAA basketball committee where he represents the Big East.

OK, that’s nice. But we all know that doesn’t mean much. What does mean something is the fact that Hathaway has a PR mess on his hands up in Connecticut and that might make jumping ship to Maryland look pretty enticing right now. What else might make it nice is Hathaway is a former Terp. Bonus for Maryland.

Last month, Hathaway announced UConn received a notice of allegations from the NCAA with regards to recruiting violations within the men’s basketball program and said the school would immediately begin the process of imposing sanctions in order to avoid further punishment.

I mean, what’s not fun about that, right?

Of course, when you look at the bigger picture, UConn has one of the best basketball traditions and programs in the country and an up-and-coming football program. Yes, I know there are other sports but we’re talking about money, so let’s be realistic here.

By comparison, Maryland’s basketball program is also good — just not as good.  Financially, Maryland basketball also has to compete with Georgetown and the Washington Wizards for its fan base and ticket sales, whereas Connecticut is a basketball-crazed state with just one professional franchise to speak of (the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun).

Football-wise, Maryland’s dealing with paying for a renovated Byrd Stadium with lagging season ticket sales and unsold suites. Meanwhile, UConn’s season-ticket sales are rising, as the Huskies played in their third-consecutive bowl game and posted a win over South Carolina in the 2010 Papajohns.com Bowl.

So what’s a guy to do? Leave behind a PR mess that could set his school back for years and head south to warmer winters (this last one excepted) and a program that has some financial challenges? Or see UConn through a tough spot and hope that if he’s successful, it’ll pay dividends down the road?

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