Connecticut Self-Sanctions, But Will It Be Enough?

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Connecticut Self-Sanctions, But Will It Be Enough?

Today, the Connecticut men’s basketball program made public its findings and response to the NCAA’s allegations of “major violations” from back in May. The report was submitted to the NCAA on September 7th. Here’s what UConn said that its investigation found:

  • Staff members made numerous impermissible text messages and phone calls to recruits,
  • The program provided tickets or free admission to games to friends, coaches and other persons associated with recruits, and
  • Head coach Jim Calhoun is not guilty of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the program.

The university volunteered the following penalties to its program:

  • A period of probation encompassing the academic calendars of 2010-11 and 2011-12 — essentially from now until May 2012, a period of 19 months, and
  • Loss of a scholarship for each of those two academic periods.

Calhoun, Connecticut AD Jeff Hathaway, and several university officials will travel to Indianapolis to meet with the NCAA infractions committee. That meeting is scheduled for Friday, October 15th — the first official day of practice. UConn has asked that the meeting be moved to a later date.

The NCAA will consider the discussions from that meeting in addition to the 700-page response that contained the above findings and offer a ruling in November or December. Given the NCAA’s recent pledge to supposedly crack down harder on rules violators, the obvious talking point here is whether or not the NCAA will see UConn’s self-imposed punishments as sufficient for the crimes. The early returns from some of the more astute followers of the game indicate that they don’t feel the auto-sanctions will cut it.

Interestingly, Calhoun submitted his own personal response to the NCAA regarding the accusation that he didn’t foster an atmosphere of compliance at UConn. This dark cloud over Storrs first materialized with the revelation in 2009 that former team manager Josh Nochimson may have given extensive benefits to recruit Nate Miles, who signed with Connecticut two years ago but never played a game for them. When it was happening, Calhoun did indeed document his concern about the Nochimson-Miles relationship and took several steps — including alerting his athletic department to the situation and warning Miles not to accept anything from Nochimson — to thwart any wrongdoing there. In his personal response, Calhoun expressed his anger for being specifically singled out for major violations, noting that “Hathaway [the Huskies' AD] and the UConn compliance staff” weren’t even mentioned in the NCAA’s initial letter from back in May.

Just as interesting as the eventual final NCAA ruling will be the judgment that comes down in the court of public opinion regarding Calhoun. Connecticut ran into trouble with the NCAA in 1996 when it was discovered that Connecticut players Kirk King and Ricky Moore had received plane tickets to their respective hometowns while playing for the Huskies, an obvious violation. UConn had to pay back the money it received from appearing in the NCAA Tournament that year and its run to the Sweet 16 was vacated.

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