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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.

Auburn junior guard Kareem Canty to turn pro

Auburn guard Kareem Canty (1) screams in pain after being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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Auburn junior point guard Kareem Canty, the team’s leader in both points and assists, has missed the Tigers’ last two games as a result of a suspension handed down by head coach Bruce Pearl for a violation of team rules. Thursday night Canty announced via Twitter that he will be turning pro, ending his Auburn career with less than one full season of play.

In 21 games this season Canty averaged 18.3 points and 5.3 assists per contest, shooting 40.1 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from three. Given Auburn’s lack of perimeter depth Canty had ample opportunities to score from the point guard position, but he struggled in the four games following standout performances in wins over Kentucky and Alabama.

Auburn’s lost six straight since beating the Crimson Tide, most recently falling 71-45 at Tennessee Tuesday night. Without Canty, Bruce Pearl called upon TJ Lang and Bryce Brown as the perimeter starters in that game with Patrick Keim and New Williams playing a combined 33 minutes off the bench. They’ll continue to see those minutes moving forward.

As for next season, Auburn brings in four-star point guard Jared Harper and currently injured point guard Tahj Shamsid-Deen will be available as well.

Canty began his college career at Marshall, playing the 2013-14 season for the Thundering Herd before deciding to transfer. Canty committed to Auburn in mid-April of 2014, only to change his mind in favor of USF before making the switch back to Auburn.

Canty’s name wasn’t showing up in early draft projections, and making this decision while in the midst of a suspension likely won’t help matters when it comes to getting selected.

BUBBLE BANTER: All of tonight’s bubbly action in one place

Fran Dunphy
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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This post will be updated as the games are completed.

You know what’s not going to be fun on Selection Sunday?

Trying to evaluate the profile that Temple (KenPom: 95, RPI: 69) eventually puts together.

The Owls are currently sitting tied for first place in the American at 9-3. They’ve swept UConn after coming from down 12 to beat the Huskies in Philly on Thursday. They’ve swept Cincinnati. They handed SMU their first loss of the season. They beat Tulsa. That’s four top 50 and six top 100 wins, which are good numbers in comparison to other bubble teams.

The problem?

They also lost at Memphis (yuck) and East Carolina (double yuck), have a non-conference strength of schedule that sits right around 200, lost to every good team they played out of conference and have thus far managed just six top 150 wins this season. The other issue? They’ve basically run out of quality opponents in the league. They do play at Tulsa (RPI: 50) and Houston (RPI: 91), which are basically must-wins at this point, and since every other opponent they play in the American has a sub-100 RPI, those are essentially can’t-lose games.

What that leaves us is the Villanova game. That will be played next week, and that’s as close to a must-win as you can get in mid-February.

WINNERS

  • Syracuse (KenPom: 39, RPI: 44): Syracuse landed their sixth top 50 win and eighth top 100 win of the season on Thursday. They also got word that the selection committee will factor in that Jim Boeheim missed time for the Orange. It may be time to take them off of this list, at least for the time being.

LOSERS

  • UConn (KenPom: 19, RPI: 46): On paper, UConn’s loss at Temple on Thursday isn’t all that bad. It’s a road loss to a top 100 opponent. Those happen in league play. Where it hurts is that the Owls have now not only swept UConn, but they did it by erasing a 12-point lead in the final five minutes. The Huskies fall to just 5-7 against the top 100 with just one top 50 win, albeit at Texas. With no bad losses and two shots left against SMU, UConn is still in decent shape.
  • Florida State (KenPom: 37, RPI: 38): The Seminoles missed a shot at landing a nice road win at Syracuse on Thursday. It doesn’t hurt their profile, and with three top 25, another top 50 and a top 100 opponent left on their schedule, there are still chances to play their way onto the bubble. The problem? All those games are losable as well.
  • VCU (KenPom: 32, RPI: 40): The Rams were on the wrong end of a brutal loss to UMass on Thursday night. It’s not the kind of loss that is going to eliminate VCU from the bubble conversation — not by any stretch — but one of the strengths of VCU’s résumé was that they didn’t have any bad losses to speak of. Now they have a loss to a sub-150 team. Their next four games are all potential landmines as well. Will Wade’s club would do well to avoid losing any of those four.

Games left to be played.

Arkansas-Little Rock (KenPom: 41, RPI: 63) at Louisiana Monroe, 8:00 p.m.
Northern Kentucky at Valparaiso (KenPom: 22, RPI: 48), 8:00 p.m.
No. 4 Iowa at Indiana (KenPom: 24, RPI: 51), 9:00 p.m.
No. 11 Oregon at Cal (KenPom: 44, RPI: 32), 9:00 p.m.
Washington State at Colorado (KenPom: 56, RPI: 29), 11:00 p.m.
Gonzaga (KenPom: 33, RPI: 66) at Portland, 11:00 p.m.
Pepperdine at Saint Mary’s (KenPom: 26, RPI: 52), 11:00 p.m.
Oregon State (KenPom: 81, RPI: 31) at Stanford (KenPom: 104, RPI: 71), 11:00 p.m.