The wording of Connecticut's release regarding athletic director Jeff Hathaway's departure inspired such a chuckle out of Fran Fraschilla on Friday that the ESPN college basketball analyst couldn't resist tweeting a pithy one-liner.
"UConn AD retired, huh?" wrote Fraschilla. "I retired from a coaching job once because of illness. They got sick of me!"
Indeed most reports suggest there was nothing voluntary whatsoever about Hathaway's decision to "retire" after eight years atop the Connecticut athletic department. A fractured relationship with Jim Calhoun and an inability to meet fundraising goals led the school to negotiate a buyout with Hathaway on Friday despite a 2010-11 year in which the Huskies won a national title in men's basketball, made a BCS bowl in football and earned a fourth straight Final Four berth in women's hoops.
The departure of Hathaway has been a near-foregone conclusion since school president Susan Herbst revealed last month she had hired an outside firm to conduct a review of the athletic department. Now that it's official, though, it does raise the interesting question of whether Hathaway will serve the second half of his two-year stint as chair of the Division I men's basketball committee or hand the reins to someone else.
The most logical choice to replace Hathaway next season would be Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski, who previously had been scheduled to inherit the role of committee chair at the start of the 2012-13 school year. A Xavier spokesman on Friday referred all questions regarding the succession plan to the NCAA, which released a statement about the matter later that night.
The statement read: "In the near future, our staff will work with Mr. Hathaway to determine the best approach regarding the balance of his term, including the status of his service as chair the committee during the 2011-12 academic year."