When a freelance journalist questioned Jim Calhoun last year about being the state of Connecticut's highest-paid employee, the irate Huskies coach began his infamous response with the line, "not one dime back."
Turns out the new five-year, $13 million contract Calhoun signed Friday will require him to give back far more than just one dime if his players aren't up to par in the classroom.
A clause in the new contract calls for Calhoun to donate $100,000 each year UConn loses a scholarship due to a substandard Academic Progress Rate, the metric the NCAA uses to measure a team's success or failure in graduating its athletes. Here's the exact wording of the groundbreaking clause, believed to be one of the first of its kind in college basketball if not the first:
The Coach believes that upholding the academic success of the men's basketball program is an important aspect of his responsibilities. The Coach agrees that in each year in which the men's basketball program incurs the loss of a scholarship(s) due to NCAA penalties associated with the NCAA Academic Progress ("APR") (or any future substitute of this standard), the Coach will donate one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) to the University of Connecticut Foundation General Scholarship Fund within (30) days of the announcement regarding the scholarship(s) by the NCAA.
Credit UConn for inserting an innovative clause in the contract that makes the program's commitment to academics feel like more than just lip service. Calhoun reportedly did not want the clause in the contract, but UConn brass insisted in hopes of ensuring the coaching staff makes academics a priority while on the recruiting trail.
"There is a lot of APR provisions in contracts across the country," athletic director Jeff Hathaway told the Hartford Courant. "A lot of people do it as incentives. We don't do it as incentives. We believe that all of our coaches understand the importance of academics and we believe they're going to deliver on the academics. So we've never provided financial incentive for academic achievement."
The APR clause is the most interesting aspect of a contract that provides much-needed stability for the UConn basketball program and gives Calhoun a raise from $1.6 million a year to $2.6 million.
Talk that Calhoun might retire as a result of health problems was a deterrent for UConn's top recruiting targets in the class of 2010, but this long-term deal between the 68-year-old coach and the school should assuage some of the concerns of future recruits.
The major remaining issue facing the UConn program is allegations that former Huskies sports manager Josh Nochimson provided recruit Nate Miles with improper benefits two years ago. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that an NCAA representative has informed the school that investigators have found violations and will be issuing a report in the near future.