STORRS, Conn. — University of Connecticut athletic director Jeff Hathaway announced Friday that he was retiring, effective immediately, after signing an agreement to leave the school.
Hathaway’s job has been the subject of widespread speculation since the university’s new president, Susan Herbst, initiated an evaluation this summer of the athletic department focusing on academic performance, NCAA compliance and fundraising.
Under terms of a separation agreement signed Friday, Hathaway will remain on UConn’s payroll as a consultant until Sept. 15 to assist in the transition process. The deal requires the school to pay him up to $531,717 through Sept. 15, 2013, plus medical and other benefits.
Senior associate director of athletics Paul McCarthy will take over as director until an interim replacement is named.
Hathaway has a rollover contract with a base salary of $351,717 annually, not including speaking fees. Under the terms of the contract, the agreement is renewed automatically each year if Hathaway has not been informed by Feb. 1 that the contract is not to be extended.
Hathaway was hired in 2003 and has overseen a period of unparalleled success among UConn’s sports teams, highlighted in 2004 when the school’s men’s and women’s basketball teams both won national championships.
This past academic year, the men’s team won its third NCAA title, the women’s basketball team reached the Final Four, the Huskies football team earned a Fiesta Bowl bid and its baseball team made it to an NCAA super regional.
But he has come under fire recently after a series of problems within the athletic department, including sanctions against the basketball team for NCAA violations, declining academic scores among men’s basketball players and a drop in donations. He has also had an icy relationship with Hall of Fame basketball coach Jim Calhoun.
“It has been incredibly rewarding to have collaborated with so many exceptional individuals during this proud period of academic and athletic excellence,” Hathaway said in a statement. “After 20 years of being associated with UConn, I felt the time was right for me to pursue new challenges. I wish the very best to all those associated with UConn athletics and to this great university, now and long into the future.”
Herbst also paid tribute to Hathaway’s record.
“The university has had unprecedented success on the field, on the court and in the classroom for more than a decade and he has a great deal to be proud of during his tenure,” Herbst said in a statement. “I join so many others at the university in thanking him for his service and in wishing him well.”
Still, the separation agreement Hathaway signed with UConn highlights concerns over alleged NCAA violations that may have occurred under his leadership.
The deal requires Hathaway to cooperate with the school and the NCAA in connection with any investigation or hearing that may arise from any alleged violation of NCAA rules that allegedly occurred under his leadership.
“In the event of such NCAA investigation, UConn, like Hathaway, shall cooperate fully with the NCAA in connection with any investigation/or hearing, and UConn shall provide Hathaway with legal representation in accordance with controlling state law,” according to the document.
The agreement bans Hathaway from making derogatory or defamatory statements about his employment at UConn, about the school or its employees and trustees “unless compelled by legal process or an NCAA investigation.”
Calhoun told The Associated Press on Friday he had no comment about reports that Hathaway was negotiating a contract buyout, saying the issue was “between Jeff and the university.”
In January, football booster Robert Burton demanded the school return $3 million and take his name off UConn’s football complex because he felt he had not been properly consulted before Hathaway hired Paul Pasqualoni as the new head coach.
Burton rescinded his demand after a meeting with UConn Board of Trustees chairman Larry McHugh.
The Day of New London and The Hartford Courant reported earlier Friday that final negotiations to end Hathaway’s tenure were under way.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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