STORRS — Seated at a table inside his Gampel Pavilion office, UConn athletic director David Benedict mixes a concoction that's one part lemonade, one part iced tea, one part Vitamin C boost — an Arnold Palmer-inspired remedy for a stubborn cough and the Diet Coke habit he's trying to kick. Light dances off his silver Husky cuff links as he shakes and swirls the solution in a supersized bottle of spring water.
To Benedict's left, on the wall behind his desk, are photographs of each and every UConn athletic team. They're uniform in size and mounted side-by-side, forming a mosaic in which high-profile Huskies are nearly indistinguishable from the more anonymous student-athletes that roam the Storrs campus.
"It's important for me to remind myself every day why I'm here," Benedict says. "Sometimes, depending on what you're doing from a day-to-day standpoint, you can lose sight of that. When I open up the door and I walk in every morning, I understand why I'm here. I'm here to support the 650 student-athletes that we have, to try and put them in a position to be successful."
An inspirational quote, written in white text over a Husky-blue background and affixed to the opposite wall, reinforces that sentiment. It reads:
This is the beginning of a new day. You have been given this day to use as you will. You can waste it, or you can use it for good. What you do today is important because you're exchanging a day of your life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever. In its place is something you left behind. Let it be something good.
Appearing on the latest episode of the UConn Insider podcast, Benedict spoke with the Courant's Dom Amore at the conclusion of a prolonged exchange of days that the Husky AD hopes will produce a bright new tomorrow for one of his programs. The wide-ranging discussion lasted about 40 minutes and indeed centered on the pursuit of new men's basketball coach Dan Hurley, but also touched on an array of Husky-related topics.
Benedict shared his approach to building relationships with student-athletes (4:00); revealed the aspects of the job that have most surprised him since he took over in 2015 (6:45); broke down the men's basketball coaching search and the traits he saw in Hurley that made him an ideal fit (9:00); identified some scheduling targets for the UConn men (12:00); weighed in on the "good for the game" argument with regards to the UConn women (18:30); gave his impressions of Geno Auriemma's coaching prowess (20:00); assessed the progress Randy Edsall has made in the ongoing quest to revive the football program (25:00); discussed the school's decision to switch radio partners (28:00); evaluated his relationship with the fan base in the age of social media (30:00); and expressed why obtaining entry into a Power 5 conference isn't an end-all, be-all (35:00).
The show wraps up with Benedict discussing how he finds home-work balance (38:00).