A parade celebrating the championship victories of both University of Connecticut basketball teams will be held in Hartford Sunday at 4 p.m., Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Wednesday.
The announcement follows the UConn women’s undefeated season and championship victory Tuesday evening and the men’s championship win Monday night. Malloy, who began a press conference by apologizing for his raspy “Husky voice,” said more details on the parade would be announced soon.
“I am proud that we can strike while the iron is hot and I urge everyone to come to Hartford this Sunday in support of our amazing national champions,” he said.
The governor spoke at length about the basketball teams’ successful seasons following a press conference on agriculture Wednesday morning.
“I have to say, it has been a remarkable run. I attended a lot of the games myself in person during the regular season and watched every game that either team played” during the playoffs, he said.
Malloy said he finished number four in his pool for the men’s season and has not yet heard how he did on the women’s season. He said he filled out his own brackets. The governor said he believed the UConn men’s team was undervalued at the start of this season but that assessment may have motivated the team to succeed.
“There was no way we should have been anything less than a five-seed. Having said that, I’m glad they made us a seven-seed because I think it was an inspiration to Kevin [Ollie, the head coach] and to the team, and it was a slap in their face and maybe it was a slap that brought them alive. So I just think that was crazy,” he said.
The governor also made some “friendly wagers” with the governors of Kentucky and Indiana. With the UConn men’s victory over the University of Kentucky, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear will be expected to uphold his end of the bet and send Malloy a basket full of various bourbons.
Malloy said Beshear wagered a lot this year because he expected to win the bet. In 2011, when the Huskies faced Kentucky in the Final Four, Beshear bet a Kentucky ham and lost.
“I had a conversation with Beshear, who’s a friend of mine, he’s a great, great governor—he was pretty cocky. In our prior bets he wasn’t so cocky, that’s why I think he offered a ham. I think he was pretty sure I was going to hold onto that bourbon when I talked to him, so I await its arrival,” Malloy said.
Asked whether UConn should be exploring moving their teams into larger NCAA conferences, Malloy said it was a conversation for university officials to have.
“Let me point out that we are of a conference that just produced two national champions. So that’s pretty strong.,” he said. “Out of respect for the league that produced two national championships, that discussion will probably be had in the future, as I expect Kevin Ollie’s contract will be as well.”
Malloy noted also that UConn’s field hockey team won that sport’s national championship in November.
“Listen, although we’re celebrating basketball, the women’s field hockey team won the national championship. So, we actually have three national champions at the University of Connecticut right now. It’s not just two, it’s three,” he said. “We are the center of basketball at the moment but, quite frankly, we are a center of great sports.”