UConn Men's Basketball Acknowledges Recruiting Violations, Backs Calhoun

The University of Connecticut put its men’s basketball program on two years’ probation and reduced the number of scholarships by one after acknowledging major recruiting violations, while defending coach Jim Calhoun.

The Storrs, Connecticut-based university imposed its own sanctions, according to a statement on its website.

In a report released today, the school acknowledged members of its basketball staff made impermissible telephone calls and sent text messages to recruits, in violation of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules. The school also said it improperly gave free game tickets to high school coaches and others.

“I am deeply disappointed the university is in this position,” University 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.”

Scholarships for the men’s basketball program will be reduced to 12 from 13 for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years, the university said. The school also will reduce the number of coaches to make calls to recruits and the number of “recruiting person days.”

A hearing is set for Oct. 15, during which the NCAA could accept the school’s sanctions or impose additional penalties.

Recruiting Report

The governing body for U.S. college sports and the university have been investigating the basketball program since a March 2009 report by Yahoo! Sports said that a former team manager helped steer Nate Miles to Connecticut by providing him with lodging, transportation and meals, according to the report.

Miles was expelled from the school in 2008 for violating a restraining order.

In May, the NCAA cited Connecticut for not adequately monitoring “the conduct and administration of the men’s basketball staff” from 2005 through 2009. While the school acknowledged the violation, the time-period for that was reduced by the NCAA to two years, spanning 2007-09.

The school’s report said the evidence doesn’t support the NCAA’s claim that Calhoun, 68, who led the Huskies to national championships in 1999 and 2004, failed to “promote an atmosphere for compliance.”

The report also alleged that assistant coach Patrick Sellers and Beau Archibald, who had served as director of basketball operations, provided false and misleading information to NCAA investigators. Sellers and Archibald have resigned.

The case has no impact on the other athletic programs at the school, the university said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Michael Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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