January 26, 2011
Donor Demands Return of $3 Million Gift After UConn Does Not Consult Him Before Hiring Football CoachRobert G. Burton has demanded that the University of Connecticut return his $3 million gift and remove his name from the Burton Family Football Complex because UConn did not consult with him before hiring new head coach Paul Pasqualoni. From Mr. Burton's January 19 letter to UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway:
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. ... I was not looking for veto power over the next hire; ljust wanted to be kept in the loop and add value and comments on any prospective candidates. ...
I believe that you are not qualified to be a Division 1 AD and I 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. ...
[D]on't underestimate me or what I have outlined and requested in this document. I have already secured legal counsel from several law firms. ... We want our money and respect back.
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Maybe if UConn and other schools just auctioned off their Division I athetic programs life would be a little easier for all, and eliminate the confusion that the public feels when College and Univesities proclaim this is "student athletics".
Posted by: Sid | Jan 26, 2011 3:24:29 PM
"We want our money and respect back."
The "respect" part is out of reach, now.
Posted by: Woody | Jan 26, 2011 4:37:25 PM
At my son's school, the principal donor insisted that the name of Rabbi Akiva, a martyr and arguably the greatest scholar in Jewish history, be replaced with that of his brother, who died in a plane crash and happened to be related to somebody very rich. After a long debate the school, desperate for money, relented. There is no evidence that this affected his charitable deduction.
Posted by: mike livingston | Jan 26, 2011 5:04:50 PM
Is anyone aware of any precedent that would permit a donor to take their gift back? This seems extremely unlikely. If it is possible, he will have to file many amended income and gift tax returns. Will he now have to pay tax penalties for not having paid enough taxes due to the charitable deductions no longer applying? This is certainly an interesting dispute to follow. Thank you for posting, Professor Caron.
Posted by: dtc | Jan 26, 2011 6:32:15 PM
Good luck Mr. Burton. Unless you had qualified or restricted the donation's use, you're going to waste a lot of your own money making lawyers rich.
Posted by: Aaron | Jan 26, 2011 6:46:03 PM
If a fool and his money are soon separated Mr. Burton will be broke by Spring.
Posted by: Sid | Jan 26, 2011 8:38:26 PM
Thanks for the post. If I were him I will do the same thing. Before hiring such coach, it should be consult first to him. It so disgusting. It just simply shows a lack of respect to him. I think, he just need a little respect.
Posted by: solar motion light | Jan 27, 2011 8:01:08 AM
This shows that when it comes to major donors, the charitable deduction is a fraud. This guy is definitely getting something in return.
It's no different than my buying a Mountain Dew. I am using income expecting a service/good to be provided in return.
Posted by: Milton | Jan 27, 2011 11:51:52 AM
Can we do this with our taxes? They picked a Treasury Secretary without keeping me in the loop.
Posted by: Woody | Jan 27, 2011 12:49:38 PM
Let's not assume that the gift was fully deducted. If it was, this guy should have first amended his return to leave it (or a good portion of it)off as a charitable deduction, then wrote the threatening letter. Anything less and the IRS is going to ask UConn to quantify what including someone in hiring (and enslaving the hiring parties to strongly heed a donor's advice) is worth. If they had any balls, they'd reply with an answer of "exactly $3 Million, Sirs."
Posted by: wch | Jan 27, 2011 1:35:40 PM