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May 2, 2005

New Ticket Policy Adopted

The University has established a new policy that prohibits employees from transferring personal tickets to University events for anything of value. The policy applies to both athletic and cultural events.

Effective immediately, personal tickets cannot be transferred – bartered, traded, or sold – for anything of value. The policy also applies to tickets purchased by any University employee.

A handful of University administrators and some employees of the Division of Athletics are provided with athletics event tickets as part of their taxable employment compensation. As taxable compensation, the tickets are the personal property of the individuals receiving them. Many Division I schools, including UConn, use athletic event tickets as a component of contractual compensation packages to recruit and retain senior athletics administrative employees and members of the coaching staff.

The continuing evolution of ethics standards for State of Connecticut employees prompted the University to review the practice of employees transferring personal tickets for use of vehicles or any other form of consideration.

“Although not a violation of NCAA regulations, this practice is no longer consistent with the best interests of the University and the state,” said President Philip E. Austin. “As expectations and standards for ethical conduct of state employees evolve, it is important that our employees avoid any appearance of impropriety.”

The contracts of some Division of Athletics employees, particularly coaches, also authorize them to earn outside income through personal endorsement agreements, so long as the endorsement activities do not conflict with their University and state employment obligations. These agreements provide opportunities for coaches and key staff to earn compensation that would otherwise be directly negotiated with and paid for by the University at significant additional expense. Under the new policy, those employees authorized by their employment contracts may continue to negotiate these agreements, provided that no tickets are transferred and both the State Ethics Commission and the University approve the terms of the agreements in advance.

The new policy was adopted following a recent disclosure by Director of Athletics Jeff Hathaway that the agreement he submitted to the State Ethics Commission did not include the transfer of tickets.

“Jeff recently disclosed this information to me and the Ethics Commission,” said Austin. “He has accepted responsibility and is fully cooperating with the commission to resolve any outstanding matters of concern. His actions, while clearly a mistake, are uncharacteristic of a man who during his service at UConn and throughout his career has established a reputation for honesty, integrity, and forthrightness. We have reviewed this matter extensively and Jeff worked closely with me to develop and implement this new policy.”

The Division of Athletics’ mission is to provide more than 650 student-athletes with a quality academic experience and an opportunity to participate in athletic competition. The program is a source of pride and excitement for the University and for the entire state, and has earned a national reputation for integrity and competitiveness.

“We will – and we must – continue to act so that we enhance and protect that reputation,” Austin said.

Personal endorsement, corporate sponsorship, and other commercial agreements help offset actual and potential athletic program expenses. These agreements historically have played an important role in division finances. Approximately 80 percent of this year’s $45 million athletics budget, which supports intercollegiate athletics and student recreation, intramurals, and health fitness programs, is funded with non-University sources.

“UConn Athletics has contributed significantly to the transformation of the University,” said Austin. “Athletics has helped to attract high-achieving students here, and has gained national visibility for us. Our goal is to make this very strong program even stronger.”