Open Letter to UConn men’s basketball Coach Dan Hurley

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Coach Hurley, I don’t know you.  You certainly do not know me, even though we are technically colleagues. (We are both employed in positions of instruction and mentorship at the University of Connecticut).

 I read your recent statement on the impact of George Floyd’s death and your thoughts on the matter.

 The irony is, for someone who apparently had a reasonably good long-range shooting percentage as a college basketball player, you so badly missed the mark in your public statement here as a college basketball coach at one of the premier programs in the nation.

 I hope you will take under serious consideration the following constructive criticism that you (as should we all) must do better: Don’t be That Guy.

 That Guy makes very public, rather wordy, but ultimately hollow and empty statements with vague references to “equality,” “injustice,” and “change.”

That Guy makes the point that he was raised to see everyone as equals, while the statement elides the fact that the country where That Guy lives has systematically oppressed non-white non-males from before the country’s inception, through its founding documents, and up to the present day.

That Guy’s statements hold NO ONE accountable for what happens to black Americans in this country, every single day.

That Guy’s statements contain literally ZERO concrete actionable items on how that change—so eloquently hoped for in the statement—might be tangibly effected in the real world.

That Guy makes a staggering sum of money managing black people and people from other marginalized groups who are exploited for their labor and talents and remain woefully under- or completely un-paid.

 Don’t be That Guy.

I do believe you are better than that.

 So here are my questions to you, as someone in a mentorship and leadership role possessed of a large “platform,” as you note:

What will you ACTUALLY do to change things?  How will you use your position of power, influence, and privilege to “create change,” in your words? How will you use your tremendous personal wealth to help? (Your overall compensation is over 50 TIMES greater than the annual household income of the average black family in the U.S.).

Will you help endow scholarships at this university for under-represented minorities who are NOT athletes? Will you recruit more black coaches to your staff or petition hard for current black assistant coaches to get head-coaching jobs? Will you ensure that your (mostly black) players are making the most that they can of their education while being committed to the nearly full-time unpaid job of representing this university on the basketball court? Will you follow up on them after graduation to see that they are in position to succeed?

 Coach, please don’t just tell us that change needs to happen.  Please tell us what you will actually do to MAKE it happen.

 Again, I beg you: Please don’t be That Guy.

Because That Guy is a hypocrite. 

Sincerely,

Geoffrey R. Tanner, Ph.D. Assistant Professor in Residence

Nutrition-Diet and Neurological Disease Lab
Department of Physiology and Neurobiology
Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences
University of Connecticut, Storrs

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