Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jim Calhoun Acted Poorly

Jim Calhoun, the head coach of the UCONN men's basketball team, acted unprofessionally a week ago. During the post-game press conference following UCONN's victory over Seton Hall, Calhoun was asked an inappropriate question. An activist who conned his way into the press conference by securing a photographer's credential asked Calhoun if he was concerned about receiving a very large salary when the rest of the world faced economic uncertainty. (Since he works for the University, Calhoun is technically a state employee.)

There's no question the question was out of line. But Calhoun's reaction was equally out of line. Rather than taking the high road and saying something like: "How about we discuss this after the press conference, as I am still pretty focused on what happened on the court," Calhoun lashed out at the reporter. In the process, he made news headlines and also propelled the issue of head coaching salaries into the national spotlight.

I watched both of UCONN's games since the incident (two victories over Marquette and Notre Dame), and during each contest, the announcers rushed to defend Calhoun. Dick Vitale on ESPN Thursday said Calhoun does not have to defend how much he makes, given the revenue his team brings into the University. Just this afternoon on CBS, Jim Nance said the public officials who criticized Calhoun's reaction should take a close look at what Calhoun has done for this state, at how much he has given to charities.

Both Nance and Vitale miss the point, that professionals should never act unprofessionally, especially when the camera is on. I have a suspicion that the defense of Calhoun is motivated more to assure Nance and Vitale that their calls to the coach are returned moving forward.

The ironic part is if Calhoun had kept his composure, the incident would not have been covered or noticed, and the announcers would not have to rush to defend him. In the end, the questioner who was out of line ended up winning; as the debate over coaches' salaries has been front and center in the sports world this week.

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