Webster Bank signed on this summer to become a major sponsor of University of Connecticut athletics and help build a new basketball training center, but UConn has refused to say how much the bank is spending or what exactly it will get in return for its millions.
Though it is a public institution, UConn keeps some of the financial information about its athletic fundraising secret by using private entities.
Many universities use private tax-exempt foundations to raise money, but what separates Connecticut from other schools is a measure passed by the state legislature a decade ago that exempts the University of Connecticut Foundation from state freedom of information laws. Also, the state Supreme Court in February ruled the school can keep its lists of donors and season-ticketholders private, saying they amount to trade secrets.
Now the school is asserting that it doesn't have to release the details of marketing deals, such as the one with Webster, because it is not actually a party to the contracts. The deal is signed by Webster and IMG College, a marketing firm that has an agreement with UConn and more than 70 other schools to administer licensing, media rights and content on school athletic websites.