Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Statement from UConn

Here's a statement from UConn regarding today's news emanating from a Yahoo! Sports report:

The University of Connecticut received a Freedom of Information Act Request from Yahoo Sports during the fall. That request was acted upon in a series of communications with Yahoo culminating in complete disclosure of all requests.

When the University began its recruitment of the student-athlete named in the article, it utilized the University's outside counsel on NCAA related matters who worked collaboratively with the NCAA staff to examine all aspects of his amateur status, as is expected under NCAA rules. The NCAA's Eligibility Center reviewed all information that it had concerning the student-athlete's eligibility status and determined that he was eligible for his freshman year. The student-athlete departed from the University before ever participating in athletics competition.

The story printed today includes no current student-athletes and no student-athlete who has ever competed for the institution.

The University's men's basketball team and its coaches are working today to prepare for its upcoming game tomorrow night. University outside counsel and administrators are continuing to review the article to determine if additional action is required.

The University takes very seriously its responsibilities of NCAA membership and will do all that is expected to follow up on any information related to possible NCAA rules violations.

I was told recently by someone I trust to expect some interesting news regarding the UConn men's basketball program in the upcoming days. Little did I know it was this (potentially) serious.

Today's Yahoo! Sports report on possible violations by UConn in its recruitment of Nate Miles raises numerous questions. Assuming any of the alleged infractions are valid, does this mean the beginning of the end of Jim Calhoun's reign at UConn? Are the violations serious enough for him to be fired, a la Kelvim Sampson at Indiana? Would UConn allow Calhoun simply to retire, rather than go through the indignation of being fired? If the allegations aren't deemed serious or, in fact, false, would Calhoun say "enough is enough" and retire anyway? It has certainly been an emotionally draining and difficult year for the 66-year-old coach, from latest battle with cancer last spring to his summerlong treatments to the Miles situation over the fall to the Ken Krayeske fiasco to last week's apparently minor health issue to this news now. Am I forgetting anything?

It's impossible to say what long-range effects this situation may have on the UConn program. The immediate effect could be that it serves as a major distraction. No question, Calhoun will be peppered with questions about this in today's press conference (4:45 p.m. EST). His best tactic would be to answer these questions as thoroughly as possible, get everything out in the open, and when the questions are exhausted, concentrate completely on beating Purdue. Of course, news will continue to creep up on this subject, so Calhoun will likely face questions about it for as long as UConn's tourney run lasts.

UConn players will be asked about this, too, despite the fact that, as the above press release states, no current players are involved in the allegations. Not sure how much contact current Husky players have had with Miles since his expulsion. I know Kemba Walker was his roommate, but after that's about it.

Perhaps the Huskies rally around this and it makes them even stronger. Perhaps it becomes too much of a burden on them and curtails what's been starting to look like a possible NCAA title run. We'll find out tomorrow night.

This much we know: Calhoun and Adrian Wojnarowski apparently never got along very well when Wojnarowski was on the UConn beat while with the Republican-American, we're told. That's not likely to change anytime soon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last paragraph about the history between Calhoun and Wojnarowski was interesting because I couldn't find a reason that Yahoo Sports would do a private investigation of a college team. This doesn't seem like normal practice and should be left to the NCAA as they are the body responsible for overseeing violations. Besides, if USC can go through Bush, Mayo, and now Hackett and not get any sanctions, then why make a big deal about it. There is a seedy underbelly to college sports, and to act like this was a rare occurrence or not common practice then people are just plain naive. A couple weeks ago there was a report on Lance Stephenson being recruited to Maryland, where the Under Armour founder went, and there was speculation that UA is promising a fat contract after he goes pro if he goes to Maryland. That seems like a bigger problem than some ex-team manager.

1:37 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the team rallies around this, wins the whole thing, and Calhoun rides off into the sunset and retires like the badass he is.

1:41 PM 

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