Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun has been known to yell at referees and his players. He can be an intimidating figure, probably a notch or two below Bob Knight on the temperamental totem pole, and there have been times when Calhoun comes across as a bully. The fact that he's won two national championships and has built one of the most successful programs in college basketball is why he is among the highest paid coaches in the country.
In case you haven't heard or seen the video, a gentleman named Ken Krayeske, a free-lance journalist and political activist who lives in Hartford, got into a heated exchange with Calhoun at Saturday's postgame press conference regarding the coach's $1.6 million salary.
"Not a dime back," the 66-year-old Calhoun said with a straight face, presumably stating that he is unwilling to take a pay cut with the state of Connecticut facing a nearly $1 billion deficit. "I'd like to retire some day. I'm getting tired."
Regardless whether he was joking or not, that was not a good answer by Calhoun. If Krayeske wanted to bring this to the public's attention and rile up state employees who lost or will lose their jobs, to use a basketball analogy, he slam dunked it.
Krayeske requested and was issued a photo pass, which gave him access to the interview room after the game. Besides taking a picture to accompany a story on his website (the40yearplan.com), Krayeske simply wanted to ask Calhoun about his salary. It's a fair question, and given the economic woes all states are facing, it's a question that other basketball coaches at state-run universities around the country should be asked. However, it probably should have been asked in a different forum. But in Krayeske's defense, he figured this was his only opportunity.
In fairness to Calhoun, he was caught off guard. He was expecting questions about his team's victory over South Florida. But he could have been a little more diplomatic instead of telling Krayeske to "shut up" and asking him if he was "really that stupid" when asked for the details of his contract with Comcast. Calhoun did say that he would be willing to discuss the topic outside the interview room.
Calhoun, who pointed out the basketball program generates $12 million in revenue, is among the highest paid college basketball coaches in the country. He is in the fifth year of a six-year contract that runs through 2010 and will make $1.6 million next year. The deal has an additional two years that can be added. The salaries for those two years will be negotiated this summer.
Krayeske, who was given a photo pass, also ticked off some media members by telling Calhoun, "If these [reporters] covered this stuff, I wouldn't have to do it." This of course produced moans and groans from the reporters.
According to someone at the press conference, as Calhoun was making his way out of the interview room, one reporter tapped the coach on the shoulder and told him not to worry about Krayeske.
"[Krayeske] is right. There are guys ... on the beat who are just pom-pom wavers. But don't paint everybody with that broad brush," the person said.
In 2007, Krayeske he was arrested by Hartford police and charged with breach of peace and interfering with a police officer at Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell as she marched in the inaugural parade. He claimed he was trying to take pictures of her. The charges were later dismissed.
It's easy to say coaches and athletes are overpaid, especially in an economic crisis. But are their inflated salaries justified by the amount of revenue they generate for the school?