Two national champions have been crowned since Yahoo! Sports reported possible violations in the recruitment of Nate Miles by the University of Connecticut. After nearly two years, the NCAA hammer came down on the Huskies today with the suspension of coach Jim Calhoun (next season), loss of scholarships, and the brutal “disassociation” from boosters. In the aftermath of the penalties levied, the question needs to be asked: Did UCONN get what they deserved or was the NCAA too lenient?
In a nutshell, UCONN assistants made “impermissible” phone calls and text messages to recruits, most being to Nate Miles. The school also paid for Miles to take the SAT and have a foot surgery. They also distributed tickets to people they shouldn’t have (ie: families, coaches).
Penalties include a 3-game suspension for Calhoun…next season at the start of Big East play, loss of one scholly for the next 2 years, less phone call and contact with recruits for assistants, 2-year suspension for assistant Beau Archibald, and disassociation with a guy they should have already been disassociated with, former manager and booster Josh Nochimson. Nochimson, if you recall, is currently being sued by former Husky great Rip Hamilton for money he allegedly extorted from Hamilton as his personal manager. Great guy to have around a bunch of potential millionaires. Right?
Because Miles never played a game for the Huskies, no games will be vacated and no post-season will be missed presumably due to that. UCONN was also given the dreaded “three-year probation” which seems to be around just as a scare tactic to prevent UCONN from doing anything bad… just for the next three years though. Pretty pointless unless you’re an opposing coach that can use the “you don’t want to go there…they’re on probation” line on prospects.
The NCAA is weird when it comes to instances like this one. Kelvin Sampson got fired and basically blackballed from college coaching for similar violations, just more numerous. Bruce Pearl got suspended by his conference 8 games for lying about a photo taken with recruits illegally at his home and still will face NCAA punishment at a later date. Calhoun ‘s punishment looks like child’s play compared to those for what seems like a similar transgression.
Let’s be honest, the Hall of Fame coach Calhoun is getting up there in years and will appreciate the time off before the strenuous part of the schedule. He is used to missing time and probably has prepared his players for that very instance. Right-hand man George Blaney has taken his place when the head man has missed action due to a battle with cancer and other various heath issues in recent year. All that being said, Calhoun’s absence for the first 3 Big East games next season will be familiar for most of the players. Does that set an example for other teams and teach UCONN their lesson for what they did?
Finally, the loss of one scholarship means nearly nothing unless the Huskies have to back off a top 20 recruit for lack of room, but when does that ever happen? The loss of an assistant won’t be felt at all because there are a lot of good coaches out there that would love to be on the UCONN staff, probation or not. The disassociation from a guy that schemed money from a program great that brought you your first title seems more like a blessing than a punishment.
So what did the NCAA actually do to UCONN that would prevent them from chuckling and continuing business as usual? I understand the national embarrassment, but in this society everybody will forget about this in a week. The way I see it the NCAA did UCONN a favor and gave Calhoun a little R&R after a Christmas period where he can spend as much time with his players as humanly possible. Blaney is like a genetic clone of Calhoun they have been coaching together for so long. I’m sure the players will appreciate the break from the brash Calhoun as well. I wouldn’t expect UCONN to miss a step during this period.
I’m not saying UCONN deserved the death penalty over some illegal contact with recruits that didn’t involve direct exchange of money or forged transcripts. However, you would think the NCAA would punish them enough to make them think twice before doing the same thing again.
This post also appears on CollegeBasketballTalk.com. Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobJonesLyes