STORRS, Conn. (AP) — University of Connecticut officials will spend the day trying to convince the NCAA that the school has done enough to punish itself for recruiting violations in the men’s basketball program.
President Philip Austin, athletic director Jeff Hathaway and basketball coach Jim Calhoun are in Indianapolis to testify at Friday’s hearing before the NCAA’s committee on infractions.
The school last week acknowledged violations stemming from the recruitment of former player Nate Miles, but denied an allegation that Calhoun failed to foster an atmosphere of compliance in the program.
Rich Karcher, director of the center for law and sports at the Florida Coastal School of Law, says the school could face additional sanctions if the NCAA affirms that allegation.
“The self-imposed sanctions are essentially a minimum floor,” he said. “The NCAA may impose more, but they certainly are not going to reduce what the university self-imposed.”
Under the self-imposed sanctions, the scholarships for men’s basketball 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 who make calls to recruits and the number of “recruiting person days.” The school also put itself on probation for two years, which Karcher said will include some increased reporting requirements.
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 Miles to UConn, 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.
The school said it found that the basketball staff exchanged more than 1,400 calls and 1,100 text messages with Nochimson between June 2005 and December 2008.
Miles was expelled from UConn in October 2008 without ever playing a game for the Huskies. He was charged with violating a restraining order in a case involving a woman who claimed he assaulted her.
Neither he nor Nochimson cooperated with the NCAA investigation.
Calhoun said in his own response that he investigated whether there was an improper relationship between Nochimson and the recruit, and warned the player against getting involved with Nochimson.
The school also has admitted that five players from last year’s team also received improper calls. Those players were declared ineligible when the school discovered the calls, and were reinstated by the NCAA last November. But Karcher said that doesn’t mean UConn will avoid sanctions.
“If you had ineligible players that played in games, then if the NCAA is going to be consistent with past practices, it could vacate some wins,” he said.
Two members of last year’s basketball staff, Beau Archibald, the director of basketball operations, and assistant coach Patrick Sellers lost their jobs after allegations they provided false and misleading information to NCAA investigators.
They also are expected to testify at the hearing, which comes as UConn opens practice Friday for the upcoming season. It’s not clear whether Calhoun will make it back in time to participate in the “First Night” activities for the fans, but associate head coach George Blaney said the boss will be back when the real work begins on Saturday.
“You don’t know how long those meetings could be,” Blaney said. “The initial plan is that he would be back late Friday night.”
UConn was 18-16 last season and lost in the second round of the NIT.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.