Connecticut Self-Sanctions, But Will It Be Enough?

Posted by jstevrtc on October 8th, 2010

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.

Calhoun Didn't Appreciate Being Singled Out By the NCAA.

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.

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Is Ater Majok Leaving the UConn Program a Sign of Things to Come?

Posted by rtmsf on August 30th, 2010

It was easy to overlook on a Friday afternoon filled with various comings and goings, but the Hartford Courant reported that several sources expect UConn center Ater Majok to head to Australia to play professionally in coming weeks, ending a collegiate career that was long on hype but short — very short, in fact — on production.  The well-traveled player who entered UConn in the fall of 2008 projected as the next great Husky big man will leave Storrs having scored a grand total of 59 points and secured 80 rebounds in less than one season of action.  According to the piece, Majok hasn’t yet formally made the decision to leave, but head coach Jim Calhoun certainly hinted at the possibility:

“We’re talking to Ater about his future, yeah,” Calhoun said. “That’s all I can say. … He hasn’t made any decision yet, but he could certainly go back and play in the Australian professional league. Nothing’s been determined yet, but there’s a chance that kind of thing could happen.”

Majok Was a Major Disappointment in Storrs

You undoubtedly know Majok’s story — the family that fled war-torn Sudan to land in Egypt; the questions about his NCAA eligibility resulting in a one-year layoff in 2008-09; the declaration and subsequent withdrawal from the 2009 NBA Draft; and the far less than stellar rookie season last year.  But the timing on this news is weird.  UConn begins fall semester classes today, and all indications over the summer were that Majok was ready for his sophomore campaign (as a 23-year old) as a member of the Huskies.  Yet on Thursday night last week, the big man tweeted that “life can take unexpected turns” and Calhoun followed it up on Friday with his quotes discussing Majok’s possible departure.

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Morning Five: 06.11.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 11th, 2010

  1. Might want to set your alarms for this one.  UCLA will be holding a public ceremony at Pauley Pavilion for the late, great John Wooden on June 26 at 11 am PDT, and it will be broadcast live on Prime Ticket and streamed live at www.ucla.edu (brief aside: a smaller tribute will also occur today at UCLA’s graduation ceremony).  We doubt that Wooden’s tribute will get 1% the attention of what another departed Angeleno of far lesser character got last summer, but we’ll do our part (and we hope you will too) to honor the man who helped make college basketball what it is today.
  2. One day after Kansas AD Lew Perkins was cleared of any wrongdoing by the university on an equipment flap, he announced his retirement effective next summer.  Um, congratulations?  Under your watch, you certainly helped to grow the Kansas football program (Orange Bowl winners in 2008) and keep the basketball program on the top plateau (national title in 2008), but the last year has been ridiculously bad, beginning with the football/basketball team fights and ending with KU apparently getting thrown to the wolves by the rest of the Big 12.  Well, he does have another year to solve some of those problems.
  3. Tom Izzo update: he spoke with Cleveland officials today while MSU faithful held a rally on his behalf back in East Lansing.  His quote on the matter: “It’s not going to be forever,” referring to his dalliance with this NBA job.  Stay tuned.
  4. UConn was warned over ten years ago about the “appearance of impropriety” with agent Josh Nochimson, but that didn’t seem to matter when it came to recruiting Nate Miles in 2006 and 2007.
  5. Where’s your glove, Dickie V!?!  The larger-than-life ESPN commentator found a way to get himself into the news during the offseason by throwing himself into the path of a foul ball at a Tampa Bay Devil Rays game last night.

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Morning Five: 12.17.09 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2009

morning5

  1. St. John’s will hold out star forward Anthony Mason, Jr., for at least three more weeks as he continues to heal from a preseason hamstring injury.  The Johnnies have gotten off to an 8-1 start that includes solid wins against Siena and Temple.  SJU should be ok for another two weeks without him, but away games loom against Georgetown and Louisville right around the new year.  In other news, reserve Quincy Roberts will also take a medical redshirt due to recurring migraine headaches.
  2. Remember Josh Nochimson, the former UConn equipment manager who was tangled up in the investigation involving illegal contact with Nate Miles, the one-time next-big-thing for the Huskies?  His attorney says that Nochimson has never even been contacted by NCAA investigators.  They must be too busy with that Memphis strict liability standard, right?
  3. Duquesne’s Sam Ashaolufeel-good story of the year.  You go ahead, young man!
  4. Seth Davis gives us his best and worst of the decade of the 2000s, and there’s an awful lot of good stuff here.
  5. Coach K gave his opinion on the whole Expansion 96 idea, which we’ve summarily ripped apart on this site.  His essential take is that folding the NIT into the NCAA Tournament will allow more teams from mid-majors to get in because of the regular season auto-bid the NIT uses (he cites the Patriot League).  True, but as Mike DeCourcy (per usual) points out, it renders the regular season in the BCS conferences meaningless.  Our previous example of 70% of BCS teams getting a bid is not something anybody except coaches and those leagues want here.
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Local Media Calls Out Jim Calhoun

Posted by nvr1983 on March 27th, 2009

When Yahoo! Sports first broke the story about UConn alledgedly violating multiple NCAA rules, we were curious whether the media in Connecticut would take on the sacred cow that is UConn basketball. Outside of the occasional activist reporter photographer, there has been a widespread belief even among outside media members (Scott Van Pelt and Bill Simmons and his buddy JackO being the ones that come to mind) that the Connecticut press would not criticize Jim Calhoun for fear of offending the university and losing their credentials to cover the program. Well we have our answer.

In yesterday’s Hartford Courant, Jeff Jacobs rips Calhoun and the UConn athletic department for their handling of the situation. It’s worth a read and we suggest you check out the comment section for the people who in turn rip Jacobs for having this happen right under his nose, but getting scooped by outsiders. I think there is plenty of blame to go around here from Josh Nochimson to Calhoun and his assistants to the UConn athletic department to the UConn administration, who let it happen on their watch. I’m sure the $12 million or less that he brings in makes them UConn President Michael J. Hogan give Calhoun’s program little longer leash than say the women’s hockey team. How far do you guys think the blame goes? And what if any criticism should be levied against the local media for not finding out (or perhaps even investigating) this stuff earlier? Or do we excuse the local media becuase UConn basketball “feeds their family” in the immortal words of Latrell Spreewell and exposing the program would mean less revenue at the paper and potential job cuts (even before the economic downturn)?

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Was Nate Miles’ Restraining Order the Best Thing That Could Have Happened to UConn?

Posted by rtmsf on March 25th, 2009

As it stands today, the #1 West seed UConn mens’ basketball team  is sitting in Glendale, Arizona, awaiting its Sweet Sixteen matchup against Purdue on Friday night, having obliterated its sub-regional opponents by roughly 1000 points in two blowout wins.  It’s still relatively early, but the Huskies appear to be the favorite going into the rest of the Tournament, with their scoring threats at every position and their game-changing defensive presence in the middle known as Hasheem Thabeet.  Scarily, UConn isn’t even at full strength, as two players who were on the roster at the beginning of the school year are no longer playing for the Huskies - we all know about Jerome Dyson’s injury, but what about the other guy… Nate Miles? 

You remember Miles, right?  Jim Calhoun brought the troubled-but-talented 6’7 wing player in from Toledo as a freshman, but he was expelled from UConn in early October for violating a restraining order based on an accusation that he assaulted a female student.   Sixteen minutes after the restraining order was issued, mind you.  He then re-surfaced at a JuCo in Idaho, where he dropped in 19 ppg this season.  So why is this all relevant now? 

A Yahoo Sports investigation led by Dan Wetzel and Adrian Wojnarowski issued a comprehensive report today outlining the sordid tale of how Miles was ‘delivered’ to UConn by a former team manager turned agent named Josh Nochimson, and how current and former UConn coaches (including Jim Calhoun) may have pulled a Kelvin Sampson and egregiously violated the recruiting contact provisions with Miles throughout 2006 and 2007.   From the report:

The University of Connecticut violated NCAA rules in the recruitment of former guard Nate Miles, a six-month investigation by Yahoo! Sports has found.  Miles was provided with lodging, transportation, restaurant meals and representation by Josh Nochimson – a professional sports agent and former UConn student manager – between 2006 and 2008, according to multiple sources. As a representative of UConn’s athletic interests, Nochimson was prohibited by NCAA rules from having contact with Miles and from providing him with anything of value.  The UConn basketball staff was in constant contact with Nochimson during a nearly two-year period up to and after Miles’ recruitment. Five different UConn coaches traded at least 1,565 phone and text communications with Nochimson, including 16 from head coach Jim Calhoun.  UConn may have committed major recruiting violations by exceeding NCAA limits on phone calls to Miles and those closest to him, records show. The NCAA allows a single phone call per month to a prospect or his family in a player’s junior year of high school. That limit was exceeded over several months from late 2006 into 2007.

This makes the Kelvin Sampson and Rob Senderoff thing at Indiana look tame by comparison. 

UConn released a statement that doesn’t really say much, but what they should be saying (at least privately) is THANK THE F#%&ING LORD!  Consider…  the Huskies may well be on their way to their third national title in the last eleven seasons.  At worst, they appear a strong contender for another F4 appearance.  If Miles was still on this team, suddenly the entire house of cards could have come crumbling down.  Even if UConn ultimately won the 2009 championship, there would be a strong likelihood that much of their season would be later vacated, Chris Webber-style

Ironically, Miles' Restraining Order May Have Saved UConn's Season

Ironically, Miles' Restraining Order May Have Saved UConn's Season (Unlike C-Webb's Michigan Teams)

Not now.  Now any punishment that UConn will take over this admittedly serious set of violations will be prospective, and it should not affect this year’s Husky team (unless the NCAA digs up some other violations impacting current players).  We don’t mean to be callous, but in a tradeoff, wouldn’t most UConn fans take that deal?  You can win the 2009 title, but you’ll have to face a 1-year postseason ban and scholarship reductions at some future point.  Yeah, thought so.   So congratulations, Connecticut fans, there is a silver lining in what was otherwise not your best day. 

Final thought here: it’s nice to see that Yahoo Sports took it upon itself to do the NCAA’s work here.  A simple FOIA request – that’s all it took?  You’d think that the NCAA’s army of investigators could figure out that one by themselves.  Easy, low-hanging fruit at these public universities.  Or, maybe not. 

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