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[ Originally posted 08.04.03 ]

UConn pours cold water on sizzling tradition

By Danny Whitford

'Watergate' started it all. 'Monica-gate' was more recent. In a country which likes to apply warmly-fitting labels to its hottest scandals, there's a flickering fracas a few hours north of the capital of turpitude that could flair into full-fledged flames.

When word gets around about the breach of norms in East Hartford, this one might heat up into a searing spectacle.

No doubt, it will be called 'Tailgate-gate.'

Connecticut, which will begin Big East football competition in 2004, graduated to the Division I-A football ranks three years ago. But the school is still learning its way around the kitchen when it comes to the finer subtleties of tailgating culture.

When the Huskies play their first game at Rentschler Field, their shiny-new 40,000-seat stadium, athletic department bureaucrats will try to enforce a set of tailgating restrictions that would probably cause fans to stage an insurrection at East Carolina and other schools more steeped in the parking lot culinary traditions of football Saturdays.

As UConn's August 30 grand-opener against Big Ten visitor Indiana approaches, according to the Hartford Courant, the Huskies athletic department has issued written guidelines to season ticket holders banning charcoal grills, large gas grills, overnight RV parking and beer kegs, and urging parking lot patrons to refrain from "ball playing or Frisbee tossing."

Once the game begins, reported the paper, the tailgating shall cease. Fans will not be allowed to remain in the parking lots after the kickoff and when the final whistle blows tailgaters will be forbidden from picking up their menu gymnastics where they left off.

Fire and environmental concerns were reasons cited by UConn athletic department officials for the rigid picnicking rules, noted the Courant.

Apparently, the requisite tailgating accessories for Huskies fans will be barebones — small gas grills and gingerly-tossed Nerf balls.

Copyright 2003 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

02/23/2007 11:02:34 AM

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