UConn Basketball

Will Jim Calhoun's Legacy at UConn Be Tarnished by NCAA Violations?

DETROIT - APRIL 04:  Head coach Jim Calhoun of the Connecticut Huskies walks off the court dejected after UCONN lost 82-73 against the Michigan State Spartans during the National Semifinal game of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Ford Field on April 4, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Jim OTDContributor IJune 3, 2010

On May 28, 2010, UConn announced that it received a notice of allegations from the NCAA, in which eight violations were asserted.

 

The allegations included several major violations, including impermissible telephone calls, text messages and benefits to recruits. Coach Jim Calhoun was cited specifically for making one of the telephone calls and for failing “to promote an atmosphere of compliance” and “to adequately monitor the program to ensure compliance” with certain NCAA legislation.

 

The full release can be found at Uconn's official athletics site.

 

When Jim Calhoun was named head coach at the University of Connecticut in 1986, UConn was not known for basketball success. In fact, it had not been to the NCAA Tournament since 1979, had never won a conference tournament championship and had not won a conference regular season title since 1979.

 

Calhoun quickly turned the Huskies into a national power, winning a conference championship and advancing to the Elite Eight in 1990. Under Calhoun, UConn has won two National Championships and has enjoyed tremendous success in the Big East.

 

UConn's basketball program has not been previously investigated, at least publicly, under Coach Calhoun's 24-year tenure. The events in question appear to be isolated to a small time period and few individuals.

 

But coaches in the past have suffered under similar circumstances.

 

In 1989, NC State's head basketball coach, Jim Valvano, was crucified in the media for allegations asserted in a book written by an individual with few, if any, credible sources. The author claimed that NC State was guilty of grade changing and providing players with cash and cars.

 

The NCAA only found that some players sold complimentary tickets and shoes and also cited NC State for a lack of institutional control. The vast majority of the allegations were proven false, but the damage had been done.

 

Despite the NCAA acknowledging the Coach Valvano had no involvement with or knowledge of the improper activities, he was fired at the end of the 1989-90 season. Valvano never coached another game, and NC State has never fully recovered.

 

Valvano won a National Championship at NC State and had substantial success in the ACC. Yet his legacy at NC State is debated to this day as a result of NCAA violations caused by the actions of others within his program.

 

In Storrs, the story to watch is whether Calhoun's career parallels that of Coach Valvano or ends on his own, more dignified terms.

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