Today UConn released a response to NCAA allegations of eight major rules violations involving the school’s basketball program. Included in the UConn response was the acknowledgement that the program did commit multiple violations and that it would offer to enact self-imposed sanctions that included minimal scholarship reductions.
(UConn Officials To NCAA: Rogues Are People Too!)
Though despite taking 62 pages (pdf) to defend itself against a serious threat of harsh NCAA penalties, the UConn administration absolved Jim Calhoun of any serious blame.
The entire NCAA investigation started after Yahoo Sports (who else?!) first broke the news last year of an alleged relationship between Calhoun and his program, former UConn basketball manager, booster and de-certified agent Josh Nochimson and then-prized recruit Nate Miles.
Nochimson is the key player in the most serious of UConn’s myriad violations. The HARTFORD COURANT describes him thusly:
A team manager-turned-agent, Nochimson was Richard Hamilton’s business manager before that relationship soured and ended with Hamilton suing Nochimson for allegedly stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from him. Nochimson, because of his time spent at UConn, is considered a “representative of the institution’s athletic interests,” by the NCAA.
He is accused of developing a relationship with Miles and providing him with gifts (lodging, transportation, meals, etc.) and also working closely with members of the UConn staff during Miles’ recruitment. Nochimson has not commented publicly since these accusations surfaced and his whereabouts are unknown.
So as a “representative of the UConn’s athletic interests,” by NCAA rule Nochimson was not permitted any contact with a prospective UConn recruit, let alone provide a recruit with significant benefits - as he reportedly did with Miles.
The heart of the story involving Calhoun’s UConn, booster Nochimson and recruit Miles was capsulated today by Dan Wetzel and Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo:
Associate head coach Tom Moore pointed out Miles and some of his inner circle to Nochimson at a recruiting event outside Chicago and was aware they had formed a relationship that day.
Other members of the UConn staff, including Calhoun, were also aware of the ongoing relationship also. Nochimson and Miles became close over a nearly two-year period.
While Calhoun, in the university response, claimed he repeatedly cautioned Miles about taking extra benefits from Nochimson, it’s a moot point. Just knowing the recruit and the representative were talking is a major violation.
How important was Nochimson to UConn’s recruiting effort of Miles? Again, this is the same guy who was accused by former UConn star Richard Hamilton of stealing around $1 million from him - yet Calhoun and his staff continued to keep in contact with Nochimson throughout the recruitment of Miles.
Calhoun had intimate knowledge of the role of a representative of the UConn’s athletic interests (Nochimson) in the life of Miles yet he claimed in his 62-page defense to the NCAA today that he wasn’t in any way responsible for Yahoo-confirmed impropriety that went on during the recruitment of Ohio hoops prospect Miles.
More from Yahoo:
Prior to enrolling at UConn, Miles received transportation, meals, housing and had Nochimson play a role in toe surgery, according to a Yahoo! Sports investigation. Miles, originally from Toledo, Ohio, attended five high schools in four states prior to UConn.
The NCAA also found the basketball staff, including Calhoun, had exceeded the number of permissible phone calls and left complimentary tickets to recruiting contacts that aren’t allowed under NCAA statutes. UConn also applied self-sanctions limiting phone conversation and days spent recruiting off campus.
Most significantly, the NCAA has also charged that Calhoun failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
From what we now indisputably know - thanks to Yahoo - that sounds about right, eh?
Not if you’re UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway! Today Hathaway said at a press conference:
“The University of Connecticut is fully committed to NCAA rules compliance. With regard to Coach Calhoun, he personally has a longstanding history of demonstrated commitment to NCAA compliance. We appreciate his continued commitment, as well as the full cooperation and support that he has provided throughout this process.”
Calhoun knew about the relationship between a representative of the UConn’s athletic interests and a UConn recruit that reportedly led to said recruit being provided improper benefits. During recruiting Calhoun also, himself, admitted to making phone calls and distributing free tickets in a way that constituted NCAA rules violations.
Yet faced with that hard truth, UConn AD Hathaway said today that Calhoun has a “demonstrated commitment to NCAA compliance.”