Recently an article published in the Hartford Courant addressed the struggles that UConn’s men’s basketball team has undergone in the last few years, and how these problems might impact the university and the state of Connecticut. The article in question addressed several things that could be affected, including a stagnation/diminishing of freshman applications, a potential drop in state funding, a drop in alumni donations, and funding for the athletic budget.
While all of these are potential risks, UConn still has many great assets (something mentioned in the article). From the best women’s basketball program ever to a strong academic reputation, and surely a beautiful campus when all this construction is over, there are many positive things that may alleviate these problems.
Given the strong benefits UConn still has to offer, issues related to freshman applications should not be a problem. Students may consider a sports program when they are making decisions on where to apply, but quality of education usually takes precedence. The ascendancy of both men’s and women’s UConn’s basketball programs may have helped the university’s efforts to be a nationally recognized university, but now that the foundation is there it will likely take more than some lackluster men’s basketball seasons to make a significant difference.
Likewise, state funding is not something directly tied to the success of men’s basketball. It may have a small effect but it is not the most relevant factor at play. Once again, UConn’s high rankings as a public university will do more to encourage additional funding/initiatives than a good men’s basketball team will. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a highly ranked program but that is no longer the only thing the university has going for it.
Studies have shown that a lack of athletic success can lead to a drop in alumni donations, but it is somewhat arrogant to claim that men’s basketball could precipitate a noticeable drop-off by itself. There are many strong athletic programs (chief among them women’s basketball) and other aspects of the university to merit donations.
All in all, a continued decline in the performance of UConn men’s basketball shouldn’t have major repercussions for non-athletic issues. Back when the program first rose in the national spotlight it was one of the few things UConn had going for it, which made its success important to UConn’s success. However, now that UConn has translated the success of its basketball programs into a solid foundation, it can continue to thrive despite a slide from men’s basketball.