Connecticut knew this day was coming. Ever since a 2008 report regarding the violations committed in the recruitment of Nate Miles, it was only a matter of time before the NCAA officially wagged its finger at Jim Calhoun’s program.
Friday was the day. The NCAA accused UConn of eight major rule violations following a 15-month investigation – done with the school’s cooperation — into Miles’ recruitment.
The findings included: improper phone calls and text messages to recruits, giving recruits improper benefits and improperly distributing free tickets to high school coaches and others. Calhoun also was cited for failing to promote an atmosphere of confidence.
Don’t be overly swayed by that last sentence. The school has complete confidence in Calhoun. He did receive a five-year, $13 million contract extension last month, after all.
That’s saying something for a 68-year-old coach with a history of health problems and a looming NCAA investigation.
“Let me be clear,” UConn athletic director Jim Hathaway said. “The University of Connecticut is fully committed to NCAA rules compliance and takes this matter very seriously. With regard to Calhoun, he personally has a longstanding history of demonstrating commitment to NCAA compliance, and we appreciate his continued commitment, as well as the full cooperation and support that he has provided throughout this process.”
Not that Calhoun is going to gloss over any of this. Two loyal assistants, Beau Archibald and Patrick Sellers, are out. And the school will spend the next three months – it has until Aug. 20 to respond to the notice of allegations – reviewing everything.
“It’s not exactly, certainly anywhere near the high point of my career, as a matter of fact it’s certainly one of the lowest points at any time that you are accused of doing something,” Calhoun said.
It must sting even more knowing that Miles never even played at UConn. He was expelled in Oct. 2008 after he was charged with violating a restraining order in a case involving a woman who claimed he assaulted her.
So what becomes of Calhoun’s legacy? Is it stained forever because his staff broke the rules going after a star player? Sure, he distanced himself smartly by keeping a safe distance from Miles’ recruitment (Gary Parrish has an interesting take on that), but the allegations are to his program.
And that must eat at Calhoun.
“I’m going to be educated by certain matters if indeed we did make mistakes, and we’ll finalize that over the next 90 days and we’ll move forward,” Calhoun said. “No one wants this to happen. Did I see it happening? No. But we’re going to handle it like we always handle things – up front, transparently, and do it the best way we can.”
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