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Statement on I-A football (Released: 11/25/97)

For Immediate Release, Office of University Communications.

President Philip E. Austin today issued the following statement
on Gov. Rowland's decision not to call a special legislative session
on the University of Connecticut football stadium

 

The Governor's decision not to call the General Assembly into special session effectively puts the issue of a Division 1-A football stadium behind us. I want to thank the Governor and legislative leaders for their support and advice as we presented our proposal to the General Assembly.

I appreciate their frank assessment of the situation in the legislature and accept the Governor's decision not to call the special session. We continue to think that building a stadium for Division 1-A football would have helped the University and the State. It would have made Storrs a more exciting place, attracted students, opened new opportunities for private fund raising, and, like our basketball program, galvanized the people of Connecticut in support of their flagship institution of higher education.

Many who disagreed with the University's proposal based their opposition on the premise that funds could be better spent in ways that relate more directly to our academic goals. I recognize that this view is based on a sincere commitment to the University as an institution of academic excellence. The discussion that took place over the past few weeks was both open and fair, and in that sense served both the State and the University well. It was essentially an argument over means, not ends, and it was an honest disagreement among friends.

Through the past several months we often heard the question, "Don't the University's teaching and research programs need more money?" The answer to that is resoundingly affirmative. We will continue to work vigorously, as we have in the past, to increase the State's support for undergraduate and graduate education, increased financial aid to students, enhancement of our professional schools, honors programs, and programs to advance Connecticut's economic development. These have always been important goals and we will work to assure that they receive the public attention they merit.

I remain concerned about the potential effects of changes in governance in intercollegiate athletics and their impact on institutions that do not play Division 1-A football. However, I want to reassure our friends here and across the nation that athletics remains an integral part of life at UConn. Athletics has abundantly demonstrated its value to our own students and to all the people of Connecticut. We will continue to support all of our athletic programs as they strive for success.

We look forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly in the coming months over a range of proposals to achieve our collective goals for the University.