State paid for Malloy’s trip to New Orleans for UConn championship

The state paid $1,193.07 for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to make a last-minute, overnight trip to New Orleans last month to see the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team win its eighth national championship.

Four nights later, Malloy, a hockey fan, paid his own way for an overnight trip to Pittsburgh to see the Yale University men’s hockey team crowned national champions after beating an intrastate rival, Quinnipiac University.

Andrew Doba, the governor’s communications director, said Malloy was acting in his official capacity as governor when he watched the state’s flagship public university’s basketball team play in the NCAA final.

Malloy met with alumni, donors and NCAA officials while in New Orleans at events organized by the university, Doba said.

The governor purchased his own ticket to the basketball game, paying $100, Doba said.

UConn beat Louisville in a rout, 93-60, giving Coach Geno Auriemma his eighth championship, tying him with Pat Summit, the retired Tennessee coach.

Doba said the state paid $226.87 for the governor’s hotel and $966.20 for his airfare. Malloy flew coach, but the ticket was nearly $1,000 because it wasn’t purchased until the day before the April 9 game.

To reach the final, UConn had to beat Notre Dame, a team that had defeated the Huskies three times. Baylor, which was favored to repeat as champions, lost to Louisville in the semi-final.

The governor’s late decision to attend the game was why neither the game nor his travel appears on Malloy’s daily calendar, Doba said. His calendar is blank for April 9 and 10, a rarity for Malloy.

His trip to the hockey game in Pittsburgh and his overnight visit to Washington on April 27 for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner were listed on his daily calendars.

His trips to New Orleans and Pittsburgh were made before gubernatorial travel briefly became a subject of controversy.

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney questioned if the governor had violated state ethics rules by attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner as a guest of People magazine.

A day after McKinney made his objections, Malloy personally paid $1,234 to reimburse People for his airfare, hotel and dinner.