Published July 03. 2014 4:00AM Updated July 03. 2014 9:27PM
News item: The University of Connecticut, which just raised tuition by 6.5 percent, paid $251,250 for Hillary Rodham Clinton to speak on campus in April, according to a report in Wednesday's Washington Post.
The Post also reported that Clinton made $300,000 at UCLA and is set to make $225,000 in October at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
Reaction to the news item: The family of Edmund Fusco paid $251,250 through the private, non-profit UConn Foundation. Technically, UConn paid nothing. But the larger point doesn't change: To think about all the hand-wringing that goes on in this country from the blowhards, blatherers and bloviators about the salaries of college coaches.
Have you ever known any of them to make roughly $125,000 an hour to wear pantsuits and spew clichés?
Seriously. I want to hear from the anti-sports crowd today. You know. Them. The ones who fancy it a bigger crime than Apartheid that Geno Auriemma makes more than a professor, that stadiums and arenas get built instead of libraries, that every stadium ever built is a boondoggle, blah, blah, blah.
I want to hear their moral outrage about this one.
Because $251,250 from anybody in a time of "austerity" in education, to use the Post's word, is a joke.
We all know by now that former UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun uttered a novel's worth of memorable lines. But "not a dime back" belongs on his statue. I was glad he said it the day in question. Now it's positively prophetic. Think about it. Calhoun put UConn on the map better than any cartographer could have. He did far more for UConn than Mrs. Clinton ever did. And while he was compensated handsomely, I doubt he made $125,000 an hour.
Best I can tell, there is one person in the history of the world who ought to command $251,250 for a speech: Jesus Christ. It's hard to match his track record and everyone would leave giggling after he turned the water into wine. Other than that, let's save $251,250 for the people who actually do something for the university.
Like, for instance, Jim Calhoun, Kevin Ollie, Geno Auriemma …
If you are one of the eggheads who keeps his or her anti-sports rants on standby ready for the next cause célèbre - and somehow excuse this piece of largesse on a political figure for one night at a place where tuition just increased - I'm deleting you from my favorites.
I mean, I'm guessing the UConn Foundation could have just as easily spread $251,250 among a few prospective students to alleviate increasing tuition, rather then spending on Mrs. Clinton, no?
Now I'm no intellectual, but I didn't go to school just to eat lunch, as Jim Leyland once said. I know this is going to degenerate into a spirited debate between the wingnuts and the bleeding hearts. We love Hillary, we hate Hillary. This just in: Hillary is irrelevant. It's the principle.
Personally, I wouldn't walk across the street to hear Mrs. Clinton's musings. Nor her husband's. Or John Boehner, Pat Robertson or other forward-thinking souls of their ilk for that matter. I'd like to think I have that much in common with the thinking folks. And I surely would not and could not endorse $251,250 for one speech, one night.
No wonder why college athletes think they're getting the shaft. Until this moment, I was part of the crowd who believed the scholarship was enough. That a free education - a pathway to future self-sufficiency - balanced the athletic sacrifices. Now I wonder. They can toss around $251,250 for a speech from a pantsuit, but won't pay some poor free safety enough for a pizza on Friday night?
I don't believe there's anybody left in Connecticut who hasn't unburdened himself or herself about the proposed baseball stadium in Hartford. Or the future of the XL Center. Here is my new position: spend, spend, spend, baby. At least the taxpayers would get some use from the buildings. A lot more than one speech, one night.
Maybe sports aren't so useless after all.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.