I’m not really a fan of all this talk about Jim Calhoun and the University of Connecticut Men’s Basketball program getting off with a lenient sentence from the NCAA today. And no, I’m not being a homer, I’m dead serious, I don’t get it. For the record, this is not about the players the NCAA regularly screws (see K-State’s Jacob Pullen), this is strictly about a coach, a program and a school. And I don’t see what’s wrong with the punishments handed out today.
Why? Because, I’m actually going to try and figure out exactly what Jim Calhoun and UConn did during this whole disaster involving Nate Miles.
First, there’s this former student manager turned agent Josh Nochimson, who is being sued former Husky Richard Hamilton for allegedly stealing $1 million from him when he was his personal assistant. Why is he talking to a HS recruit in the first place? Anyway, he is talking to Miles and apparently giving him a bunch of free stuff, huge NCAA no-no. In return for free stuff, Miles looks at UConn, where an asst. coach and basketball staffer have been in regular contact with Nochimson (another huge no-no). Why is anyone talking to this agent guy anyway? And why is AD Jeff Hathaway and the UConn Compliance Department fallen asleep at the wheel? And why hasn’t Calhoun just ditched this kid and his baggage?
Okay, so Miles gets dismissed from the school, the two UConn basketball staffers/coaches resign because they apparently misled/lied to the NCAA and all while Calhoun isn’t “promoting an atmosphere of compliance?” Let’s read off the list of things gone wrong during Calhoun’s tenure as UConn basketball coach.
1996 – NCAA Tournament appearance forfeited after two players accepted plane tickets from an agent.
That’s it. That’s the list. And let’s run down Connecticut’s history of major NCAA violations:
2010 – Nate Miles Recruitment
This is UConn’s first major violation. EVER. For all sports. Somehow I think an “atmosphere of compliance” is generally associated with UConn and its athletic programs. And perhaps I’m wrong about this and there’s some obscure violation that Google can’t find. Please post it below, I’d love to read about it.
There are reports that Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl is about to get slammed by the NCAA. Why? Because he had a recruit over at his house during a barbecue, which honestly doesn’t sound all that bad since he ended up playing somewhere else. Oh, wait, Pearl lied about it to the NCAA. Yikes…um…that’s not good. And a quick Google of “Tennessee Vols NCAA Violations” turns up not only Pearl’s story but multiple stories about their football program, especially during Lane Kiffin’s brief tenure.
You see, it’s not just Pearl on trial with the NCAA but Tennessee as well. The NCAA sees Jim Calhoun, a coach with nary a violation on his resume, certainly not a major one, and a school with a history of doing things the right way. That’s why I think Calhoun and UConn got off “easy” because first time offenders usually do.
At the end of the day, the UConn Men’s Basketball program screwed up. And Calhoun might be the captain of that ship, but there is plenty of blame to go around here to people at UConn, formerly associated with UConn and outside the program as well. Is this a learning experience for Calhoun and UConn, absolutely. And if that experience doesn’t keep the UConn Huskies out of the NCAA proverbial doghouse, then you’ll see the punishments start flying.
Look, I understand the NCAA has a very difficult job. I’m sure that the NCAA and its member schools (for the most part) are not trying to commit violations, but understandably they will happen. But it is how schools and the people associated with them handle the situation is just as important as what the violation is. Do I think Calhoun and UConn handled it perfectly? Probably not.
But how many more sanctions do you want for a recruiting violation against a school where the recruit never played a game for the school? Had Miles not gotten kicked off campus and played for the Huskies, I’d be crushing Calhoun and Jeff Hathaway right now and probably writing about a multiple year post-season ban for the UConn Huskies. Right now, I hope that Hathaway, Calhoun and the rest of the UConn Athletic Dept. are working tirelessly to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Especially in the next three years.