<
>

New UConn AD emphasizes booster ties

STORRS, Conn. -- Newly appointed interim University of Connecticut athletic director Paul Pendergast said Monday that relationships with boosters and staff and ensuring compliance with NCAA rules will be his priorities as he takes over for Jeff Hathaway.

In an appearance with UConn President Susan Herbst, Pendergast addressed the media for the first time at The Burton Football Complex.

Pendergast reiterated the four areas of focus for the athletic department -- already mentioned by Herbst -- as compliance, academic achievement, fundraising and athletic success.

In addition Pendergast focused particularly on relationships with employees and donors.

"It starts with trust, it starts with number one do they trust me," Pendergast said about UConn athletics employees.

He held a similar tone when speaking about donor relationships.

"It's about relationships and it's about friendships it's not just about necessarily donors and employees," he said.

Pendergast was picked Sunday to replace Hathaway, who left his job under pressure on Friday. UConn had many athletic successes under Hathaway but also had compliance issues and a rocky relationship with some donors.

Pendergast also said Monday he is considering new initiatives for the athletic department including a ticketing price system that scales prices according to the demand for a game.

"I think there's consideration that should be given towards if we've got a high level opponent coming in and those seats are very, very valued seats that we price it accordingly," Pendergast said.

A long-awaited new practice facility for the basketball team couldn't come soon enough, he said.

Herbst has said Pendergast, a former associate athletics director, will serve on an interim basis until further notice. Pendergast is currently president of the Saint Francis Foundation and senior vice president of development for Saint Francis hospital.

He begins handling the school's athletics on Sept. 19 with an annual salary of $325,000. She is unsure of when a search for a permanent athletic director will begin.

When asked if he was considering trying to hold the position full time, Pendergast said he was.

"I think I have to act that way," he said, "I don't think its necessarily just putting your finger in a dike and just holding it."