UConn Basketball: Is It Time for UConn's Jim Calhoun to Call It Quits?
The dream for every coach or player is to be able to leave the sport they love on their own terms.
Before their skills decline. Before their health deteriorates. Before the game passes them by.
Jim Calhoun put the Connecticut men's basketball program on the map.
In 26 seasons, he has led the Huskies to:
- Three NCAA championships (1999, 2004, 2011; tied with Bob Knight).
- Seven Big East tournament championships (1990, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2004 and 2011).
- 618 overall victories.
After the 2011-12 season, Calhoun is ranked No. 6 among Division I coaches with 875 total wins, one victory behind Kentucky's legendary Adolph Rupp.
It's hard to imagine how any other coach would have achieved the same kind of success at this school over the last quarter of a century.
Even with all of these accomplishments, UConn's program is at a defining moment.
The Huskies have been in crisis mode since before winning the school's most recent men's basketball NCAA championship.
During the 2010-11 season, the program was sanctioned because of a "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance."
Because of this, Calhoun was suspended for three games, the program is losing one scholarship per year through the 2013-14 season, the coaching staff will be restricted to less days of off-campus recruiting and a three-year probation was levied.
Last year, freshman guard Ryan Boatright was investigated for receiving impermissible benefits.
He was suspended for six games and has to repay $4,500 back to charity. Additionally, he was held out of three additional games after the probe was reopened during the season.
Also during last season, Calhoun missed eight games because of spinal stenosis—a narrowing of the spine normally associated with aging and sometimes with arthritis.
Following last season's soap opera, two of the Huskies' stars, Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond, entered the 2012 NBA draft.
Earlier this summer, the NCAA announced that UConn, along with nine other D-I schools, are banned from the 2013 NCAA tournament because of poor academic performance.
Because of this penalty, former starters Alex Oriakhi and Roscoe Smith transferred.
This past week, Jim Calhoun fractured his hip in a bike accident that required surgery. Doctors are anticipating an eight-to-12 week recovery, which would lead right up to the beginning of the upcoming season.
The question that immediately came to mind when I heard about this last regrettable event: Is it time for Calhoun to call it quits?
Should Jim Calhoun step down before the 2012-13 season?
Though Calhoun has proven throughout his career that he is able to come back over and over again (remember...he's a three-time cancer survivor), would this be a good time for him to step down and allow the school and the program to start a new chapter?
In the short term, Huskie fans everywhere would most likely want Calhoun coach as long as he can.
But, to put the program back on solid footing, a full-fledged change might be what's best.
The current coaching staff could cover the upcoming season. Three men on the UConn bench are former D-I head coaches: George Blaney (Holy Cross, Seton Hall), Glen Miller (Penn, Brown) and Karl Hobbs (George Washington).
Kevin Ollie, a former Huskie star and member of the current coaching staff, has been regularly mentioned as Calhoun's possible successor.
Publicly, no one wants to push Calhoun out. He has earned the privilege of making the decision on his own.
If he makes that call now, Calhoun will look far better than if he struggles to get back for one more opportunity to prowl the sidelines.
No one could have anticipated the bike accident.
But, if you believe that everything happens for a reason, maybe this is just an unexpected but timely exit point for one of the most successful coaches in NCAA hoops history.
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