The last year and a half have not been pleasant for the UConn men's basketball team.
In March 2009, Yahoo! Sports broke a story that accused UConn of committing major violations in their pursuit of recruit Nate Miles.
The violations centered on the actions of agent wannabe Josh Nochimson, a former student-manager for the men's basketball team.
As a result of the Yahoo! story, the NCAA launched an investigation into the UConn men's basketball program and delivered a list of allegations.
They are summarized as follows:
- Between June 2005 and February 2009, members of the men's basketball staff violated the provisions of NCAA recruiting communication legislation by exchanging at least 160 impermissible telephone phone calls and sending at least 191 impermissible text messages to prospective student-athletes;
- During 2007 and 2008, Nochimson, representative of UConn's athletics interests and then certified professional basketball agent, provided a prospective student-athlete with impermissible benefits. Included was the surgery on Miles in December 2007 as I reported.
- On Feb. 29, 2008, Beau Archibald, director of men's basketball operations, provided an impermissible benefit to a prospective student-athlete;
- Archibald failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity associated with the administration of intercollegiate athletics as required by NCAA legislation for providing false and misleading information to the NCAA enforcement staff and institution.
- Assistant Pat Sellars failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity associated with the administration of intercollegiate athletics as required by NCAA legislation for providing false and misleading information to the NCAA enforcement staff and institution.
- In 2007 and 2008, members of UConn's men's basketball staff provided a total of 26 impermissible complimentary admissions or discretionary tickets to high school basketball coaches, individuals responsible for teaching or directing an activity in which a prospective student-athlete is involved, or a friend of a prospective student-athlete;
- The scope and nature of violations detailed in the first two allegations demonstrate between 2005 and 2009 that head coach Jim Calhoun failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in the men's basketball program and failed to adequately monitor the program to ensure compliance with NCAA legislation regarding telephone calls, text messages, and benefits provided by a representative of the institution's athletic interests;
- Between 2005 and 2009, UConn failed to adequately monitor the conduct and administration of the men's basketball staff in that it failed to (a) review the men's basketball staff's telephone records to ensure the staff was not making impermissible telephone contacts with prospective men's basketball student-athletes; (b) monitor the conduct of Nochimson, which led to violations; and (c) review complimentary admissions and discretionary tickets provided by the men's basketball staff to ensure the staff was not violating entertainment restrictions.
Key in its absence from the list of NCAA allegations is the phrase "lack of institutional control."
As you probably know, the recruit in question, known by all to be Nate Miles, never played a game for the Huskies. He was expelled in October 2008 for violating a restraining order. This is good for two reasons. First, forfeiture of victories will not be one of the punishments. Second, the kid sounds like a creep and probably shouldn't have been in the school in the first place, let alone on the team.
The university is going to formally respond to the NCAA in writing on September 3, 2010. Basically, they are going to show the NCAA that they take the charges seriously, admit some wrongdoing, and self-impose some punishment that will likely appease the NCAA.
How are they likely to respond?
The first part of the response will obviously be to point out that both assistant coaches named in the allegations have been dismissed. They will also point out that they have hired a well-respected former head coach to, among other duties, be in charge of compliance.
Both of these actions go to the "we take this stuff seriously" part of their answer.
UConn will probably admit to wrongdoing on most of the charges and then present a suitable punishment.
There is no question that recruiting restrictions will be a part of the self-imposed penalty. Limitations on off-campus recruiting, loss of some phone call privileges, and possibly the loss of a scholarship or two are all likely at stake.
The university will also likely seek to place itself on a probationary period of one to three years.
The allegations made by the NCAA are certainly serious. Nochimson was clearly swimming in a cesspool and doing his former school no favors. Miles, however, had no business at UConn. That said, I would be hard pressed to envision any sanctions or penalties other than those I presented.
The loss of multiple scholarships is generally reserved for big-league misdeeds, like those involving Reggie Bush and USC. We're not talking about an active player being paid or a player receiving payment to attend the school (O.J. Mayo). We're not talking about a player with essentially a phony transcript getting into college (Eric Bledsoe, UK). We're also not talking about a pattern of behavior.
The notion that there will be a postseason ban or the loss of multiple scholarships over two or more years is just silly. There will be penalties, the NCAA will accept UConn's response (naturally, they will take their time with that), and we'll move on.
The biggest hit from these allegations will remain the bad publicity UConn has received. Unless Jim Calhoun is able to somehow engineer a deep NCAA tournament run this season (winning cures many ills), the publicity sting will be felt for several years to come in the area of recruiting.
[UPDATE: UConn officially sent their response to the allegations on Tuesday, September 7. After a process of redacting some of the information in the report, as required by state and federal law, the response will be made public. The NCAA should be making their ruling on UConn's self-imposed sanctions sometime in November or December.]