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

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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.

Memphis lands commitment from 2018 center Connor Vanover

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Memphis picked up its first commitment in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night as unique center prospect Connor Vanover announced his decision on Twitter.

At 7-foot-2, Vanover brings elite size to the interior for the Tigers and he’s also skilled enough that he was a 43 percent three-point shooter during his stint playing with Pro Skills in the Nike EYBL this spring. Although Vanover needs to add strength and athleticism to adapt to the college level, he simply has size that you can’t teach. Pair that size with an intriguing perimeter jumper and it’ll be interesting to see how head coach Tubby Smith is able to develop Vanover the next few years.

A three-star prospect according to Rivals, Vanover averaged 9.1 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game during the spring. Originally from Arkansas, Vanover is spending his senior season of high school ball at prep school powerhouse Findlay Prep.

Bill Self unsure of how long he will continue to coach

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Kansas head coach Bill Self is one of the most decorated college basketball coaches of all time.

Recently inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame earlier this month, Self has won a record 13 consecutive Big 12 regular-season championships while also claiming a national title for the Jayhawks during his storied career.

But while most legendary coaches in contemporary college basketball have stayed around to coach well into their late 60s or early 70s, the 54-year-old Self doesn’t necessarily see his career playing out that way.

Speaking with ESPN.com reporter Myron Medcalf on Wednesday, Self acknowledged that he’s thinking about potentially retiring once his next contract ends after the 2021-22 season. With five more years left on his current deal, that would mean that Self would be retiring before he would even turn 60.

“I’ve said all along that if I could go to my late 50s, that’d be good for me,” Self said to Medcalf. “Now that I’m getting close to my late 50s, I’m like, ‘Well…’ but my contract runs until I’m 59, so I’ve got five more years left. I definitely want to do that. Then whatever happens after that I’d be happy with whatever. But I don’t want to [coach too late].”

While Hall of Fame coaches like Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim (72 years old), Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (70 years old) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams (67 years old) are showing no signs of slowing down, Self acknowledged to Medcalf that coach, and specifically recruiting, has started to take its toll on him.

“With recruiting the way that it is, it just wears you down,” Self said to Medcalf.

With Kansas pursuing so many potential one-and-done prospects over the past few seasons, it means that Self usually has to recruit sizable recruiting classes

Self is certainly entitled to do what he wants with his career and his life but it would be a shame to see one of the game’s greats hang it up at that point in his career. Potentially retiring at that age means that Self won’t chase 1,000 wins or any additional longevity records

Ohio State lands second pledge in two days with 2018 guard Duane Washington

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Ohio State stayed hot on the recruiting trail on Wednesday as the Buckeyes landed a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Duane Washington.

The 6-foot-3 Washington is the second commitment for Ohio State and new head coach Chris Holtmann in the last two days after four-star forward Jaedon LeDee pledged to the Buckeyes on Tuesday.

One of the better shooters in the Class of 2018, Washington averaged 14.9 points per game on tremendous shooting splits (48% FG, 87% FT, 45% 3PT) playing with The Family in the Nike EYBL this spring. A Michigan native who now resides in California, Washington gives Ohio State a much-needed guard commitment in the Class of 2018.

With the Buckeyes needing to fill a lot of scholarships due to roster turnover, Washington is a solid start to their perimeter class. While Washington isn’t likely to play point guard, he can play multiple perimeter spots and should be a solid addition to the Buckeye rotation.

Syracuse walk-on accused of sexual assault

Syracuse Post-Standard
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Dominick Parker, an 18-year old freshman who was added to the Syracuse roster as a walk-on just 12 days ago, was arrested last Friday and charged with sexual abuse in the first degree, reports Syracuse.com.

Parker is accused of having sexual contact with an 18-year old female student while she was incapable of giving consent. His name and picture have been removed from the Syracuse athletics website.

“Sexual and relationship violence is not tolerated at Syracuse University,” the school said in a statement. “We are now doing all that we can to support and provide assistance to those affected by the alleged incident. As this is an ongoing investigation, Syracuse University will not be providing further comment.”

Wichita State to sell beer at Koch Arena

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As if it wasn’t already hard enough to win games at Koch Arena.

Starting this season, Wichita State fans will be able to buy beer during games at their home arena, a fact that should ensure that the raucous home environs that have made the Shockers so difficult to beat in Wichita remains the same.

That’s not a bad thing to add to a home court advantage while making the move into a new conference, the American, for the 2017-18 season.

Once a rarity, beer at college sporting events in a growing trend. Minnesota, Florida and Texas, among a number of others have added alcohol sales in recent years. Given the money that would seem likely to be generated, it’s a trend that will probably become even more pervasive in college athletics.

Let’s just make sure that everyone partakes in moderation.