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Sunday, February 22, 2009
Auriemma says question was 'unfair'

Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma came to the defense of the university's men's coach Sunday, a day after a heated exchange between Jim Calhoun and an activist over Calhoun's seven-figure salary.

Auriemma, who recently signed a 5-year, $8 million deal, said he doesn't think it's fair to ask someone who has worked as hard as Calhoun whether he deserves the money he makes, especially during a postgame news conference.

"I think it's unfair in this setting and I would venture to say it's unfair in any setting," Auriemma said.

"How do you answer questions about money, about your personal life," he asked.

Auriemma pointed out that the coaches' salaries come mostly from funds the athletic department has raised.

Calhoun became visibly angry Saturday when 36-year-old Ken Krayeske persisted with a line of questioning about why the coach of a public university was making $1.6 million in tough economic times.

"My best advice to you is, shut up," Calhoun said at one point.

Auriemma said the line of questioning could be reasonable if university programs would be saved by a coach, or any faculty member, giving back some money.

"If everybody in the university agreed that, let's all give back this and we can save this, this, this, and this program, then somebody's got a plan," Auriemma said. "But just to ask that question and say, 'Yeah, OK, because I make a lot I should give some of that back,' that's a really hard question to deal with."

Krayeske is a political activist and self-described freelance journalist who landed in the headlines after other high-profile incidents in the past.

They included his January 2007 arrest at Gov. M. Jodi Rell's inaugural parade, where Hartford police charged Krayeske with breach of peace and interfering with an officer.

Police said Krayeske dropped his bike and stepped into the parade route, a security breach they considered a potential attempt to disrupt the event. He later said he was attempting to photograph the governor for his Web site.

The charges were later dismissed.