HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The University Connecticut says its men’s basketball program committed major NCAA recruiting violations. The school imposed its own sanctions, including two years’ probation and a loss of one scholarship for the next two seasons.
But the university says the evidence does not support the NCAA allegation that coach Jim Calhoun — who has won two national titles with the Huskies — failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance.
In a report released Friday, the school acknowledges its basketball staff made impermissible telephone calls and text messages as cited by the NCAA in a May report that followed a 15-month investigation. It also admits it improperly provided free game tickets to high school coaches and others.
A hearing is set for Oct. 15 before the NCAA infractions committee, which could accept UConn’s decision or impose additional penalties.
“I am deeply disappointed the university is in this position,” University of Connecticut President Philip E. Austin said in a statement. “It is clear mistakes have been made. This is a serious matter and we have worked in full cooperation with the NCAA. We look forward to fully resolving these issues and restoring our men’s basketball program to a level of unquestioned integrity.”
The response of more than 700 pages was given to the NCAA on Sept. 7, but made public Friday after the school blacked out a significant number of items to comply with federal education privacy laws.
The biggest blemish on the program until now came in 1996, when UConn was stripped of its NCAA tournament run to the regional semifinals and ordered to return $90,970 in tournament revenue because two players accepted plane tickets from a sports agent.
But this is the first time the program has received a letter from the NCAA accusing the school of major violations. The case has no impact on the other athletic programs at UConn, such as its national champion women’s basketball team.
In the May report, UConn was cited as an institution was cited for not adequately monitoring “the conduct and administration of the men’s basketball staff in the areas of: telephone records, representatives of the institution’s athletics interests; and, complimentary admissions or discretionary tickets.” The school acknowledged that violation, but said the NCAA has agreed to reduce the time-period for that violation from four years to two, spanning 2007-09.
Among the allegations against UConn is that staff members Beau Archibald and Patrick Sellers provided false and misleading information to NCAA investigators. Sellers, an assistant coach, and Archibald, who served as director of basketball operations, have resigned. They and Calhoun filed their own responses to the NCAA.
Calhoun’s response says he was not involved with the improper benefits, did not know they were being provided and “made reasonable efforts” to try to avoid the situation.
“Calhoun understands his obligation to monitor his staff and to report his knowledge of potential violations,” wrote his attorney, Scott Tompsett.
Calhoun has coached 24 seasons at UConn and 38 overall, compiling a record of 823-358 that includes a 2009 final four trip in addition to the two NCAA crowns. He recently signed a five-year, $13 million contract.
Under the self-imposed sanctions, the scholarships for the men’s basketball program have been reduced from 13 to 12 for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years. The school also has agreed to reduce the number of coaches to make calls to recruits and the number of “recruiting person days.”
UConn was just 18-16 last season and lost in the second round of the NIT, as Calhoun faced an undisclosed medical problem. He took a medical leave of absence in January and missed seven games.
He also has been treated for cancer three times while at UConn. Last summer he was hospitalized after breaking several ribs during a charity bike ride.
The NCAA and the school have been investigating the program since shortly after a report by Yahoo! Sports in March 2009 that former team manager Josh Nochimson helped guide Nate Miles to Connecticut, giving him lodging, transportation, meals and representation.
As a former team manager, Nochimson is considered a representative of UConn’s athletic interests by the NCAA and prohibited from having contact with Miles or giving him anything of value.
Most of the allegations appear to deal with Miles, but the names of all recruits were redacted by UConn from the NCAA letter and its response.
Associated Press Writer Stephanie Reitz contributed to this report.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.