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Jim Calhoun is either lying or incompetent

From The UConn Blog, yesterday.

The penalties themselves may not appear to carry too much weight, and you will certainly hear a lot of screaming from opposing fans about UConn being "slapped on the wrist,"

*raises hand*

Seriously; read through the report. It's 30 pages.

Here's the NCAA public summary (bolded emphasis mine):

The committee found that in his "zeal" to get the prospect admitted to the university and eligible to compete, the head coach allowed a booster, who was a certified agent by the National Basketball Association, to be involved in the recruitment process. Further, the committee found that the head coach "overlooked indications" that this booster might be breaking NCAA rules. Specifically, the booster provided the prospect with impermissible inducements, including the payment of at least a portion of the expenses for the young man’s foot surgery; the cost of his enrollment at a basketball academy; the registration fee for the SAT; as well as strength, conditioning and basketball training.

The men’s basketball staff was aware of the booster’s status as an agent and his relationship with the prospect. In fact, the coaches had frequent contact with the booster through approximately 2,000 phone calls or text messages with the agent throughout the recruitment process. Despite this regular contact, the men’s basketball coaching staff did not question the booster about his relationship with the prospect. In fact, the staff was sharing information about the prospect’s recruitment with the booster, knew of the booster’s frequent contact with the prospect, and was aware that the booster hoped to someday serve as an agent for the prospect.

Either the UConn coaching staff was complicit in the booster abuses, or Jim Calhoun is a complete moron. There is no other possible conclusion. Either way, he deserves to lose his job. Is it even remotely plausible that a major conference DI coach would not put two and two together about the booster/agent and his relationship with Nate Miles? Keep in mind that UConn compliance officers warned Calhoun and the athletic department to stay clear of Josh Nochimson in 1999. If the University of Connecticut cares one iota about about maintaining an atmosphere of compliance, Calhoun and A.D. Jeff Hathaway ought to be out the door after the season.

Oh, and there's also the matter of 150 impermissible phone calls and 190 impermissible text messages. Basically, the difference between Jim Calhoun and Kelvin Sampson today is that the NCAA could prove that Sampson lied, while Calhoun is sticking to his "see no evil, hear no evil" defense. From Sampson, to Dez Bryant, to former UConn DOBO Beau Archibald and assistant Patrick Sellers, the NCAA seems take a Richard Nixon-standard, punishing proven instances of lying more than actual violations. "Lying or incompetency" seems to be a reoccurring theme with Calhoun, as his explanation for UConn's horrible graduation rate similarly doesn't hold water.

And yet the NCAA apparently believes that Calhoun really does take that little interest in his program. Wonderful. Mike Rice and Tim Pernetti might as well wire cash to every A.A.U. basketball program in the tri-state area, because this case clearly sets a precedent that the NCAA has neither the means or the will to enforce the spirit of its rules. Three years probation, losing one scholarship, a three game suspension for Calhoun, and minor recruiting restrictions is a pittance.

Other report highlights:

  • Jeff Hathaway on Nate Miles: "it was the most intense I've ever seen [the head coach] about the recruitment of any particular student-athlete."
  • Something that I wasn't aware of with Nate Miles: one recent his case was so problematic was because he attended five different high schools. I hate to say this, but that portends for problems with Jordan Goodman.
  • UConn apologists: isn't it a little troubling, on multiple fronts, that your former DOBO thought the impermissible calls were ok because higher-ups okayed them? It's already easy to anticipate the UConn reponse here: "Beau Archibald is a liar and cannot be trusted." Then why the heck did Calhoun hire hm as DOBO?!?!?!? Why was Archibald made the point man for recruiting Miles? There's too much blame to go around to put it all on one scapegoat, or even Archibald and Sellers.

Update: Dana O'Neil's post about Bruce Pearl helps to illustrate the above point about lying.

Asked to explain why former director of basketball operations Beau Archibald received a show-cause penalty and head coach Jim Calhoun only a three-game suspension, Thomas said, “When you have an individual who has a show cause for a certain reason, that is a very serious violation in terms of being forthcoming with the enforcement staff and the institution.’’

The NCAA, in this regard, is like a parent. Doing something wrong lands you in trouble. Doing something wrong and lying about it equates to a heap of trouble.