If UConn buys out AD, what’s it mean for Calhoun?

Leave a comment

Here’s news that’ll fend off Jim Calhoun’s retirement for years.

Connecticut president Susan Herbt is working on a deal to buyout athletic director Jeff Hathaway, according to a report from theday.com of Connecticut. The process could take “a few weeks” or longer, but the site reports it’s unlikely Hathaway will still be the AD when school starts.

Calhoun, 69, signed a four-extension with UConn last year, but spoke openly about retirement after the Huskies won the NCAA title in March. (In fact, it’s been an ongoing drama most of the summer.) If there’s a way to encourage him to fulfill that contract, it’s by adding an AD he wants.

Because Calhoun isn’t a Hathaway fan. At all.

From an interesting column by Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant:

Basketball coach Jim Calhoun has made little secret of his distaste for Hathaway. Many sets of ears have heard about that distaste. That’s one matter. This is another: Calhoun and his group of supporters, according to one highly placed source, have been angling for Hathaway’s ouster. More than that, the source told The Courant that he had been approached to give support to that group.

Is Calhoun’s camp the prime motivator? Don’t know. We do know he is a powerful force at UConn. There could be other forces at work. Herbst’s chief of staff, Rachel Rubin, for instance, once worked as associate athletic director for ethics and regulatory affairs. You have to figure Herbst will hear her view, and it might not be flattering.

Yet it comes down to this: If Hathaway is jettisoned, it will look to folks from coast to coast as if a coach who has just been penalized by the NCAA in the Nate Miles debacle won a power struggle against his athletic director. It will look to all as if a coach who just lost two scholarships and $187,500 out of his pocket for poor Academic Performance Rating schmoozed a new president into guillotining an AD who had put that APR language into his contract.

Not only that, Hathaway’s set to serve as the chair of the NCAA tournament committee next year. Buying out an AD who’s set to assume a high visible position for the NCAA’s most important event of the year probably won’t sit well with the NCAA brass.

Between that and the academic/compliance issues, it’s a risky move for the school to make.

But if keeping Calhoun on the sidelines for a few more seasons is the larger goal, well, it’ll almost certainly pan out.

UPDATE: Herbt released a statement on Sunday regarding the athletic department’s external review, but Hathaway isn’t named in the statement. That can’t be promising for the AD.

“Athletics is a vital part of UConn and there are many ways to evaluate the success of a collegiate athletic department — academic performance of student-athletes, NCAA compliance, fundraising and overall athletic success,” Herbst said in the statement. “We will be excellent stewards of public and private funds in all areas of the University. As a result, I will be reviewing all divisions of the University over time, but with great urgency, to make sure that we are serving this state in the best possible way. Accountability and excellence are our themes, going forward.

“The Division of Athletics is one of those areas of the university in which we have already begun this evaluation process,” Herbst added.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Bubble Banter: Sunday Funday on the bubble

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Sunday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

TEMPLE
UCLA
PENN STATE
NEBRASKA
N.C. STATE

Georgia’s Mark Fox ‘disgusted’ by investigation into college basketball

1 Comment

Georgia head coach Mark Fox did not hold back when asked about the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, calling is “disgusting” and pleading with coaches and the institutions that employ them to do right.

“It starts with our coaches, and then you ask how the NCAA has handled it,” Fox said. “The NCAA is made up of member institutions. How are the institutions handling it? That’d be my first question. How are they handling it? Putting their head in the sand and looking the other way? I’m past anger, sadness. It’s just disgusting, and we’re really hurting the game, and the game has been so good to everybody.”

Fox is in a difficult position. He’s regarded as one of the nicer coaches in the business and is considered to be ‘clean’. He team also appears headed for another NIT, which could end up costing him his job.

“We’ve had some situations where we didn’t get players because of that reason, and other teams have, too,” Fox said.

“I’m disgusted,” he added. “I’m disgusted with how people have treated our game. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

Cuonzo Martin: ‘No timetable’ for a Michael Porter Jr. return

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

There still is not clarity on whether or not Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. will return to the court this season.

On Saturday, he participated in Missouri’s shootaround at Kentucky but did not run through warmups and did not play in the game.

“I don’t have a timeline,” Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin said after Saturday’s 87-66 loss. “He wants to play.”

“We have to make sure he’s ready to go.”

Porter has only had one full practice since he underwent surgery on his back in November, and that came on Friday. A source confirmed to NBC Sports that Porter was, in fact, cleared for full contact on Thursday afternoon after a visit with a doctor.

Porter is expected to continue practicing with the team. He told reporters earlier this month that he would like to get a few games prior to the start of tournament play if he happens to take part in any games.

Kentucky, Duke, Arizona comment on player eligibility amidst FBI scandal

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

On Saturday night, Kentucky won their third straight game over an opponent that will be in next month’s NCAA tournament. They were led by freshman Kevin Knox, who finished with 21 points just 36 hours after his name appeared in a report by Yahoo Sports in connection with a runner that was tied to disgraced NBA agent Andy Miller.

“I’m not here to talk about that,” Knox said in response to questions regarding the runner, Christian Dawkins, or the story that Yahoo published.

“That was all the university dealing with it,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said, adding that he did not discuss the matter with Knox. “I wasn’t involved in any way. But I felt good about it.”

“I was sure I would be able to play this whole week,” Knox told reporters. “I wasn’t really focused on none of that. I let Kentucky handle it.

“I just focused on me, focused on my game, and let them handle it. I slept well at night knowing I was going to be able to play.”

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski went a step further, detailing precisely how he found out about the report and how Wendell Carter’s parents were involved. Carter’s mother called him while he was walking his dog and told him what was in the story. According to Coach K, Wendell’s parents went to break bread with Dawkins, but Wendell’s father did not like him and left immediately while Wendell’s mother stayed to be polite. She said she did not have anything to eat.

“It wasn’t a distraction because I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” Carter told reporters after going for 16 points, 10 boards, four steals, four assists and two blocks in a win over Syracuse. “My family didn’t do anything wrong. No one around me did anything wrong. I knew I was going to play. Once I got out on the court, it was all good. It felt good.”

“We are very comfortable with where we are on this,” Coach K said. “We don’t feel like we are taking any chances with this. We very confident about this particular thing.”

Alabama told ESPN that any connection that Collin Sexton had to Dawkins or the Yahoo story was dealt with during his one-game suspension at the start of the season.

“We reviewed i, and after we reviewed it, we made the decision that Collin was going to be available for us,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “That’s the extent of it.”

Meanwhile, Arizona lost at Oregon after Sean Miller was replaced by Lorenzo Romar as head coach for the night. Romar offered no answers as to whether or not Miller, who was reportedly caught on a fire tap talking about a $100,000 payment to Deandre Ayton, will return to the program anytime soon because, as he put it, “I don’t know.” Romar was unable to even answer if he would be coaching practice on Sunday.

Troubled No. 14 Arizona loses 98-93 to Oregon

Chris Coduto/Getty Images
2 Comments

EUGENE, Ore. — No. 14 Arizona played without coach Sean Miller and lost 98-93 to Oregon in overtime at the end of a difficult Saturday for the troubled Wildcats program.

Miller sat out a day after ESPN reported he was heard on an FBI wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment to current Wildcats freshman Deandre Ayton. The Wildcats also were without guard Allonzo Trier, who tested positive for the same banned substance that cost him 19 games last season.

“I believe it is in the best interest of our team that I not coach the game tonight,” Miller said in a statement. “I continue to fully support the university’s efforts to fully investigate this matter and am confident that I will be vindicated.”

The school did not specify why Miller didn’t coach against Oregon or if he will sit out any other games.

Ayton had 28 points and 16 rebounds for Arizona (22-7, 12-4 Pac-12), and Rawle Alkins added 24 points.

Oregon (19-10, 9-7) used a stellar performance at the line and a balanced attack to pick up its second straight win. Elijah Brown scored 22 of his season-high 30 points after halftime. MiKyle McIntosh added 20 points, including a key 3-pointer with 1:02 left.

Brown made 15 of 17 free-throw attempts as the Ducks connected on 20 of 24 foul shots overall. The work at the line helped them over a 58.6 shooting percentage and a 35-30 rebounding edge for the Wildcats.

Arizona also committed 17 turnovers.

Dylan Smith’s 3-pointer for the Wildcats tied it at 83 with 22 seconds left. Oregon’s Payton Pritchard missed a driving layup with 2 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona’s immediate future isn’t clear beyond its last two games of the regular season at McKale Center. The Wildcats can clinch a share of the Pac-12 title with one more win.

Oregon push for relevance in the postseason discussion got a boost by beating the Wildcats, though the Ducks’ only route to NCAA Tournament may rest with winning the conference tournament in Las Vegas next month. Oregon closes on the road against the Washington schools.