Basketball

Meet the UConn men’s basketball fan who paid the $5,000 fine after students stormed the court

Meet the UConn men's basketball fan who paid the $5,000 fine after students stormed the court

Matt Sullivan, a software engineer living in Denver, knew he had to take responsibility for the action of his boisterous online persona, Big Larry Forearm, when he called his alma mater last Thursday morning.

“I was like, ‘I’m here to pay the fine for the legal assault,'” Sullivan said. “And the woman was like, ‘Huh? Do you have any context? I said, ‘Did you see these kids storming the court? I kicked myself and, yeah, I’m here to pay that. “

The UConn athletics representative remained confused. She asked Sullivan to hold on, then said someone would call him back. Sullivan, Big Larry Forearm, was laughing all the time, achieving one of his everyday life goals — to find a good time, or create one, this time coughing up $5,000.

“She was probably like who East this guy ? he said.

Sullivan grew up in Guilford and graduated from UConn in 1998 which essentially paid a fine the university incurred from the Big East for fans who stormed Center Court XL on February 22 after a victory 71-69 on Villanova. The day after the game, as word of the beautiful spread, Sullivan tapped the next words on Twitter to appear under his handle Big Larry Forearm (@BigLarryBabyArm): “I’ll pay the @UConnHuskyAD fine.”

Hours later, UConn athletic director David Benedict responded.

“Send us the donation and charity of your choice and we’ll take care of the rest,” wrote Benedict XVI. “Thank you!”

UConn’s obligation can be satisfied by a donation to its favorite charity. Sullivan’s request — a UConn will honor, an athletic department spokesperson said Tuesday — was that the $5,000 be directed to the Husky Ticket Projecta 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that purchases tickets to UConn sporting events for underprivileged children.

Why? Because he wants more kids to have the kind of experience that defined his own childhood. Larry Sullivan, Matt Sullivan’s father, is the real Big Larry. A UConn graduate himself, Larry died of a heart attack while Matt was a junior at Storrs.

“He was a huge basketball player,” Sullivan, 46, said. “We used to go to games in the old Fieldhouse. Then we bought him tickets for the first game in Gampel against St. John’s [in 1990]. I have never seen my father cry. But he almost cried, he was so happy. We always watched games together and listened [WTIC] 1080 on his radio, all the old broadcasters. And there was a newspaper, Husky Blue and White. He would subscribe. One of my favorite things is that he read it – on the hopper, like Elvis – and then gave it to me and I could read it.

Sullivan chose his Twitter name based on a fond college memory of his father arriving on campus in a blue van to pick him up for a weekend. Larry Sullivan would never enter the dorm. He had just parked outside, his arm hanging out the window. Matt’s friends joked that they had never seen his father’s face – only Big Larry’s forearm.

Larry Sullivan met his wife, Carol, at UConn and the couple had three children. He was a pharmacist who worked on the St. Raphael campus of Yale New Haven Hospital, spending time talking about UConn basketball with orderlies. Matt said he was dragged on the “UConn hype train” as a child by his father, who found such joy in the 1988 NIT Championship Season and the 1990 Dream Season.

Matt Sullivan, like many of his age at that time, fell in love with the Nadav Henefelds, the John Gwynns and the Murray Williams. He moved to Denver about 20 years ago and one of his ties to his original home and past is UConn basketball. He bought men’s season tickets before this season when he knew he would rarely, if ever, attend a game. He gives them to Connecticut fans, mostly via Twitter. He also recently purchased UConn football and baseball season tickets for upcoming seasons, and he’ll be giving away nearly all of them.

“It allows me to engage with people and I’ve made some great friends on Twitter,” Sullivan said. “It’s great to get people to games and get people to watch. I have disposable income right now. I’ll keep going until I can’t do it anymore, or until some woman or someone tells me I can’t spend money on stupid stuff.

Sullivan has donated numerous times to UConn-related charities and is a longtime donor to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He gives tickets to people who can make him laugh with a social media post. Winners must follow three rules: actually attend the game or give the tickets to someone who will, send a picture of the game and “don’t be an ass”.

Sullivan has appeared in a few men’s games this season – three in the Bahamas for Battle 4 Atlantis in November, a trip during which he befriended many people in and around the UConn program and spent time between matches during the life of the party, buying rounds of spirits and platters of meatballs for others at bar gatherings.