Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Quiver and Shake

Three words sum it all up: No postseason ban.

Isn't that what it's really all about? Sure, the NCAA's sanctions against UConn are everything from minor to embarassing to legitimately hurtful. But when it's all said and done, the lack of a postseason ban is really what Husky fans care about the most.

And if you listen to committee of infractions chairman Dr. Dennis Thomas, a postseason ban could have happened.

“There are a lot of options the committee has in its quiver,”
said Thomas, who is the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. “Based upon all of those options, which is inclusive of a postseason ban, we decided to implement the penalties as said forth in the public release.”

Let’s break down what each of the NCAA’s sanctions against UConn means to the program and to Jim Calhoun, and how everything that transpired today affects the program going forward.

Public reprimand and censure.

Little more than public embarrassment. Jim Calhoun takes his image, legacy and place in the history of the game seriously, so I’m sure he’s not happy about it. But it is what it is. Does anybody even remember that Charles Rangel was publicly censured a few months ago? Didn’t think so.

Three years of probation from February 22, 2011, through February 21, 2014. The public infractions report further details the conditions of this probation.

The NCAA adds a year to what UConn already self-imposed. Hardly the end of the world.

The head coach must be suspended from all coaching duties for the first three conference games of the 2011-12 season. He cannot be present in the arena where the games are played and cannot have contact with the coaching staff or student-athletes during the games.

Embarassing, no doubt. A little surprising, too, that the long arm of the NCAA extends into specifically suspending a coach from conference play. Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl was suspended for the first eight SEC games this season for misleading NCAA investigators (sound familiar?), but that was levied by the SEC itself. The NCAA has yet to punish Pearl (who, ironically, coached against UConn, a non-conference foe, in the middle of that suspension last month).

Two-year show-cause order for the former operations director (February 22, 2011, through February 21, 2013). The public report further details the conditions of this penalty.

This obviously only affects Beau Archibald. According to a source, Archibald will appeal this decision.

Permanent disassociation of the involved booster. The public infractions report includes further details.

Did you really think the program would ever associated itself with Josh Nochimson again?

Reduction of men's basketball athletics scholarships from 13 to 12 for the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.

NCAA adds one more year to UConn’s self-imposed two-year sanctions. Not a shock, and certainly not a back-breaker. Consider: UConn has 12 scholarship players this season (per its own self-imposed sanctions). Seniors Donnell Beverly and Charles Okwandu are gone after this year, and in all likelihood, so is Kemba Walker to the NBA. That’s three spots open for next year, maybe more if there are any of the usual transfers, etc. One spot has been filled by Chicago point guard Ryan Boatright. The Huskies will have at least two spots open for next year and the year after, since everyone else on this year’s roster is a sophomore or freshman. That’s enough.

I’m going to lump these next four together:

Ban on men’s basketball recruiting calls during the 2011-12 academic year until 30 days after the first day that phone calls are allowed.

Reduction in the number of men’s basketball coaches allowed to make phone calls from three to two, not including the head basketball coach, for six months after the university’s response to the notice of allegations (self-imposed by the university).

Reduction of the number of men’s basketball off-campus recruiting days by 40, from 130 to 90, for the 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 recruiting periods.

Limit of five official paid visits for men’s basketball for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.

None of these are good for the Huskies, particularly the reduction of off-campus recruiting days. But again, UConn has a host of good, young players already in stock, and it’s a good bet the Huskies will still be able to get good players despite these sanctions.

The head coach, assistant coach and all members of the compliance staff must attend the NCAA Regional Rules Seminar.


Bottom line: Jim Calhoun says he is “very disappointed” in the NCAA’s findings. I’m sure there is a part of him – the extremely prideful part, the part that will never go down without a fight, the part that is very protective of his place in the history of the game – that is disappointed.

But there almost has to be another part of Calhoun that is a bit relieved that the sanctions weren’t worse. There is no postseason ban, which is about the only thing that most UConn fans really, truly cared about. The lack of a postseason ban and the cloud finally being lifted off the program should be enough to satisfy prospective recruits and limit any more negative recruiting that may be going around.

If nothing else, Calhoun is guilty of his overzealous pursuit of Nate Miles. Now, he’s paying the piper – but the price could have been a lot worse. UConn is going to the NCAA tournament this season and can for seasons to come, as well, provided it deserves a bid.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It could have been worse. But at the same time, Miles never played for UConn, so in a way I think these sanctions are a bit excessive.

I bet 95% of college basketball programs are guilty of different infractions, UConn just happened to get caught and now we're paying the price.

February 22, 2011 at 8:37 PM 

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