The official response to NCAA allegations submitted by the University of Connecticut on September 7 has finally been made public.
The response includes an admission by the university that major recruiting violations occurred over a two-year period (2007-2009), as well as an acknowledgement of impermissible phone calls and text messages made by the basketball staff.
The major recruiting violations all involved the relationship between aspiring player agent Josh Nochimson and recruit Nate Miles.
The most significant, and somewhat unexpected, aspect of the response was a repudiation of the assertion that head coach Jim Calhoun failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance on the basis of a lack of evidence.
UConn, as an institution, is taking the majority of the blame for the major recruiting violations in absolving Calhoun. According to the response and a statement from Calhoun, Coach Calhoun made reasonable efforts to monitor the situation with Miles, and forwarded all acquired information to athletic director Jeff Hathaway and the school's compliance officer.
Calhoun's statement goes on to say that he went so far as to warn the player in question about the relationship with Nochimson.
"If a prospect and an agent are going to engage in conduct violative of NCAA legislation hundreds and thousands of miles away from campus, there is only so much a head coach can do to prevent the conduct," Calhoun's statement read.
Also of significance is that the NCAA has agreed with the university that the time period covered by the allegations should be reduced from four years (2005-09) to two.
As expected, the school is looking to self-impose a two-year period of probation, as well as a one-scholarship reduction in each of the next two years. There will also be some restrictions on recruiting man-hours.
UConn officials are expected to meet with the NCAA at a hearing on October 15. In that hearing with the NCAA infractions committee, a determination will be made to either accept UConn's recommendations or to impose additional penalties.
These penalties, if accepted, are not very damaging to UConn's chances of recovering from last season's disappointing finish.
It would be very surprising if the NCAA does not accept the self-imposed penalties. These schools do their homework before submitting their responses, and generally have a very good idea as to what would appease the committee.
I'm sure there are many who will scoff at this "slap on the wrist" that UConn is recommending. Those people clearly do not have a solid grasp of the types of infractions that happen on college campuses across the country everyday.
The most damaging of the allegations, the major violations in the recruitment of Nate Miles, involve a player that never once wore a UConn uniform. The other violations, the phone calls and the gifting of game tickets to high school coaches, are far from major.
That said, a statement from the university president, Phillip E. Austin, best sums up the position of the University of Connecticut.
"I am deeply disappointed the university is in this position," Austin said in a statement. "It is clear mistakes have been made. This is a serious matter and we have worked in full cooperation with the NCAA. We look forward to fully resolving these issues and restoring our men's basketball program to a level of unquestioned integrity."
UConn's president and athletic director fully, and publicly, support Coach Calhoun. Any fan or supporter of the university should do the same.
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