Friday, March 27, 2009

Calhoun Addresses Numerous Subjects

A very revealing, lengthy press conference by Jim Calhoun today. After several questions about the actual game tomorrow night, Calhoun was asked about many of the controversial subjects currently swirling around both him and his program.

Here's a transcript of the juicy stuff:

Q. Just regarding the recent controversy, your program put out a statement. You addressed it, both times by saying you wouldn't have any more to say. So I saw you quoted twice in national publications today. I was wondering if you would like to comment any further on any mistakes that may have been made, as you alluded to, in one of the pieces.

COACH CALHOUN: I was asked a particular question. I will say that.The first thing I know you all out there have a job to do. I truly -- I know it doesn't seem like I recognize your job, but I actually do realize that you have to work for a living and actually have to inform the public and put out the printed word. There is no question, and let people know what's going on. Our fans are hungry to know what's going on, too.But we cannot -- we are not the ones that are going to judge UConn. Quite frankly, it is going to be people at the NCAA level and the 200 -- 500 -- I said yesterday when they asked me could a mistake have been made, my quote was "in a 508-page manual, a mistake could have been made." Do I know if any has been made? No, I'm not making judgment one way or the other. I said could there have been a mistake made. As we speak, I know Jeff Hathaway, our athletic director, our compliance people, and our outside counsel -- I had a conversation with them this morning and, by the way, right after practice because I need to have them answer a question for me on how the process is going. But I am not going to by any stretch of the imagination make judgment upon us. Because my judgment didn't make any difference.Quite frankly, the University's judgment except -- I truly believe in what we have intended and tried to do as a program. And I said, if we made mistakes, someone else will judge that for us out of that 508-page manual, that is the NCAA manual. It is really that simple.If I didn't say that to everybody else, then I apologize because I know, once again, people are asking you what's the story. But I'm not going to make public comment on something that the governing body of college athletics is going to comment on. So I'm going to keep it at that. Once again, I understand what you need to do, but all I can do is just tell you, repeat that comment that I made yesterday and probably should have made it up here.When I said something yesterday, you were probably tired of listening to me, but everybody just about left. I'm not making an excuse. I'm saying I was going to say something similar, and I'm glad you asked the question. I have a responsibility, first, to my institution, to my kids, to my program. I believe that we always try to do the right things. And all I said very simply, out of our 508-page manual it will be up to the judgment of the NCAA did we in fact make or not make a mistake. They are getting information as we speak. And that will be decided by other people, not us. And so all I can do is that we play Missouri tomorrow, get my team as ready as I possibly can for Missouri and no more. Would I like everybody in the world to have great faith and confidence in me and maybe give this a shot? Yeah. Very honestly and candidly, of course I would. Is that going to happen? Of course it isn't. That's not the nature of the way things are. People by nature are going to question what you do and what you don't do.I have done this for 37 years. I truly believe that everything I have tried to do I have done with a good, clean conscious and if we made a mistake, we'll find out about it. If we didn't, we will also find out about that.

Q. How difficult and exhausting a year has this been for you with your health issues before the season started, during the season, some well-publicized situations obviously --

COACH CALHOUN: I don't know about that. Well publicized, when I yelled at somebody, I was called a bully. And then I didn't say anything, and I was guilty. Which way do you want to have it? Just tell me. I'm not going to do what you ask me to do. If you tell me, it is not going to make any difference. Point being, which way do you want it? Just tell me. Someone said that he didn't yell, therefore he was guilty. Someone said I bullied somebody when someone asked me about salary. Not at UConn but about Comcast. All I'm saying to you is all I'm trying to do is do my job. Understand that you have a job to do, too. I didn't answer your question, did I?

Q. Has it been a particularly tough and exhausting year? Does it have you thinking at all of possible retirement in the near future?

COACH CALHOUN: Couple guys have asked me that and rightfully so. Every single year -- a few years ago, I was going up from Charlotte with Dean Smith. I was not in the hall of fame at the time. I asked him very simply, Coach, why did you get out. Said, I got out at 67 years of age. I will turn 67 in May, by the way. He said, I loved the coaching. The other stuff, and he didn't mean just media, he meant all the other stuff that surrounds our game at times, all the other various aspects and all the -- I think all the -- I always have said that the faculty senate wants nothing but Rhodes Scholars. Many of the fans want a waiver wire. So you pick someone up on the fly. Other people want a perfect performance by you every single night and you to be Gentleman Jim. Whatever the case may be, you are not going to please all those people.My point is, after a while, all the other stuff can get to it. That was Dean's point when got out of coaching. He said he never left coaching because of basketball. So this year or any other given year, I always reflect -- he said, don't ever -- but the great thing he said to me, don't ever make a decision after a great win or after a bad loss. Particularly don't make it after a season. Wait some time to see how things look. I love my team. I love coaching. I have really enjoyed this team. So I think the final answer to your thing is, this team has made this season very joyful for me personally. Has there been some trials and tribulations? Without question. But it seems like for a lot of us in this business, that's part of the job that we do. If you want to be in the highlight program, you are going to be able to inhale the heat. There is heat brought -- if you are going to be a No. 1 seed, then that's -- or in the NCAA tournament, or in the Big East, if you are going to be at that level, then there is going to be scrutiny. People are going to write, say whatever about you. That's just part of the nature of what we do. So I would wait like I do every spring and late in the spring to make any kind of decision about my future. My future right now is I want to coach, and most importantly I want to coach against Missouri tomorrow.

Q. Just to be fair, wanted to give you a chance to respond to a report out of Tampa today that Josh paid for Nate Miles to have surgery down there about a year ago -- year or two ago.

COACH CALHOUN: I have no response. Thank you.

Q. Most of us have been with you through -- most of those 27 years.

COACH CALHOUN: Actually you have.

Q. Sadly or not. I guess the question is, the most anybody has in their profession is their reputation. I wonder how you -- you are in the hall of fame. You have done a number of tremendous things for the profession. How does it feel closer to the end of your career than the beginning to have to be in a position -- I'm not asking you specifics of anything -- but just generally being in a position of having to defend, talk about the NCAA. Is that just part of the business? Or are you offended by it? Hurt by it? Or it doesn't matter?

COACH CALHOUN: No, it does matter. I'm a human being. I wear my emotions on my sleeves. I think everybody who knows me knows that. I think depending upon the source, it can be very hurtful, certainly. No one likes to have their integrity -- I have done this for 37 years. I'm not going to go back to every single thing that has ever happened to me. But as far as any NCAA violation that Jim Calhoun has been accused of -- not a kid in his program, not a plane ticket or anything of that nature. After 37 years, I guess that it is somewhat hurtful, not that someone said it couldn't happen, but not to give time to see if something did happen and to jump right in, especially if you know me. So I guess you don't really know me or don't care. Is that a little hurtful? I have a lot of respect for a lot of you people whether you realize it or not. We don't always agree, but I have a lot of respect for you. Sometimes you just jump. You don't need to jump. You don't know me, jump. But if you have a feeling about what I have tried to do for 37 years, has it always been right? Nope. Have I been wrong? You know, a lot of words and other things I would like to take back. Anybody who is as emotional as I am, without question. You and I, as a matter of fact -- I said something to you -- I still remember back at Boston Garden, When are you going to win the big game? And I jumped on you. I have great, incredible respect for you. It hurt more for you to say that than someone else. That's why I said it's the source many times.

Q. Then you got big ...

COACH CALHOUN: Thanks. I appreciate that. I was going to say two, but I will leave it at that. But I remember the day. I remember standing right there with you because I had great respect for you. I do read The Times. I read you. And I had great respect for what you had to say. What you like to do is have people give you the benefit of the doubt over what you earned. If it was my first year in coaching, tenth year in coaching, okay. I think I have tried to do the best I can. I have always been the person -- every judgment I have ever made in life about every single thing I have done can't always be accurate. And I speak for all the rest of us in the room, too.

Q. Am I being unfair if I suggest that it's your job to know what's in those 508 pages?

COACH CALHOUN: Do you think every NCAA investigator knows what's in every one of those 508 pages? You think so?

Q. In general, yes.

COACH CALHOUN: In general, they know every single interpretation.

Q. That's why they have the job. That's why there is only 20 of them on earth. In general.

COACH CALHOUN: Overall, I would assume it is my job to know -- it is not my job to know what every human being whoever graduated from UConn is doing at every single moment 24 hours a day. Is it my responsibility according to that 508 pages? Yes. That's what the Net says. The Net says you are responsible for anybody who graduated from UConn, anybody who represents the athletic interest of UConn, lifetime, all that kind of stuff. I think I have a pretty good knowledge of the NCAA book. Do I know every single particular -- up until September, you couldn't leave messages -- I mean, you could leave messages, now you can't. It counts as one phone call a week. Things that affect you in every single day basis -- by the way, if you call the NCAA and they really stopped us doing that so we call the conference office, you will get different interpretations over different things because it all has to be put in context. It can't just be a simple answer. So no one in my opinion knows every single answer. It has to be put in context.There are extenuating circumstances. There are a whole different kind of thing. What I'm going to do right now is very simply tell you we are trying to get ready for Missouri. All I'm very simply telling you is that back home my athletic director and the people there and the only people that can control that are working on that. All I'm trying to do is get our team to hopefully get us a trip to Detroit by playing a terrific Missouri team.

Q. The hall of fame status, the national championships, all your victories, maybe that should earn you the benefit of the doubt. But the way the world is is that seldom anybody gets the benefit of the doubt. Do you feel like you have become a distraction to this team? And did anybody talk to you about stepping aside until this is cleared up?

COACH CALHOUN: Did we play yesterday?

Q. Yes, you did.

COACH CALHOUN: And we won, right?

Q. Correct.

COACH CALHOUN: To answer your question simply, no. I think my athletic director came out with a supportive I'm very supportive of Jim, myself, the president, et cetera, and his job is to go out and try to win -- try to beat -- he said yesterday Purdue. Now it will be Missouri. And that's my job. My job right now is -- I have no control over those other things until I go back home. And then, as I said, I won't ever have control of it. It will be controlled by the people that were -- a member of the association, the NCAA.

Q. The heart of my question is do you feel like you have become a distraction to this team?

COACH CALHOUN: No, I don't at all.

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