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UCONN booster Robert Burton’s sent a scathing letter to school athletic director Jeff Hathaway indicating that he was upset that Hathaway did not follow his advice in the hiring of Paul Pasqualoni as head football coach earlier this month.
The chief executive officer of Greenwich, Conn.-based Burton Capital Management wants the school to return $3 million in donations and remove his family name from its football complex because he says he was shut out of discussions about the selection of a new football coach.

The letter is a priceless piece of pontificating petulance, and I am only surprised that someone as wealthy as Burton would not seek the counsel of a public relations professional before sending it.

I’ve excerpted a few of my favorite paragraphs for your reading pleasure, along with some commentary of my own.

“When I called you on Monday, January I made two things very clear to you, as the largest donor in the UConn football program. I told you that I wanted to be involved in the hiring process for the new coach. I also gave you my insight about who would be a good fit for the head coaching position as well as who would not. For someone who has given over $7,000,000 to the football program/university, I do not feel as though these requests were asking for too much. Your lack of response on either of these requests tells me that you do not respect my point of view or value my opinion.”

This paragraph, the first in the letter, is the most curious to me. If Burton already offered Hathaway his “insight about who would be a good fit for the head coaching position,” wasn’t he afforded his requested input?

What else did he want? A seat on the interview committee?

I am fed up with you as a manager because you did not let the hiring process take place in an open manner. You and your committee of three talked to some coaches and made a critical decision about who you were going to hire without input from knowledgeable people who care about the program. I believe that you are not qualified to be a Division 1 AD and l would have fired you a long time ago. You do not have the skills to manage and cultivate new donors or the ability to work with coaches. It is our intent to let the correct people know that you did not listen to your number one football donor and you led a flawed process in the search for UConn’s football coach.

“…you’re number one football donor”.

Burton sounds pretty proud of that. Doesn’t he?

He also reminds me of a third grader, threatening to spread a mean rumor across the playground. Simply substitute “correct people” with “popular kids” and you have yourself a playground bullying situation.

What you don’t know about me, other than being a college football player/captain and NFL draft pick, is that I know more football coaches than the majority of Athletic Directors in America. I was a GA in Graduate School and worked on my in Tennessee and Alabama, was also a scout for the Minnesota Vikings while in grad school. I am fully qualified to assess coaches and their ability to match up with the university’s needs, and have done so for football programs from Vanderbilt to New Haven, as well as several schools in the Ohio Valley Conference and Big Ten.

This is my favorite paragraph. Who knew that Robert Burton was more knowledgeable about the hiring of football coaches than the majority of Athletic Directors in America?

Robert Burton. That’s who.

I think the University of Connecticut should inscribe this paragraph on the side of their newest athletic facility, so that everyone can know about Burton’s former football heroics and his extensive experience in the NFL as both a draftee an a scout. Perhaps that would make this football mastermind happy.

As soon as you find a new donor, I want you to return the $3 million I gave you for the Burton Family Football Complex, as well as the additional funds I gave Randy and the football department for pictures and other art and the new audio system in the weight room. We plan to donate these funds to another university that supports our objectives and goals. After we get our money back, you can take our name off the Complex.

This is the most disgusting paragraph in the entire letter. It’s the paragraph that lets the reader know that charitable donations made by Robert Burton are never charitable and are never made without substantial strings attached.

Lastly, don’t underestimate me or what I have outlined and requested in this document. I have already secured legal counsel from several law firms. If you are looking for a fight, then you have selected the right family. You have hurt and embarrassed the Burton family for the last time. We want our money and respect back.

This paragraph, the last in the letter, is the most baffling.

First, Burton marked his letter Personal and Confidential, but even I know that any letter sent to a state university is subject to the Freedom of Information Act, which is how the letter eventually leaked to the press. So if he has already secured legal counsel as he claims, how would any decent attorney allow such an inflammatory and reputation-destroying letter to be sent in the first place?

And the last sentence is the best. It’s priceless, really. Those seven words capture the essence of Burton and his understanding of this situation perfectly.

“We want our money and respect back.”

Have two more incongruous idea ever been pushed together into the same sentence?

We would like you to return our charitable donation to the University and simultaneously earn back the respect of the community to which the money was going to serve?

The letter itself is a guarantee that any respect that Burton still had is forever gone, and his demand for the cash is simply icing on the cake.