University of Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun was suspended for three games next season by the NCAA for failing to monitor recruiting violations by the school that included more than $6,000 in improper benefits given to a former player.
A Hall of Fame coach who led Connecticut to national championships in 1999 and 2004, Calhoun will have to sit out the first three Big East Conference games next season, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Committee on Infractions said in a news release.
“I am very disappointed with the NCAA’s decision in this case,” Calhoun said in a statement. “My lawyer and I are evaluating my options and will make a decision which way to proceed.”
The Storrs, Connecticut, school also will forfeit a total of three men’s basketball scholarships -- one each year through the 2012-13 season -- and serve a three-year probation period during which it will face recruiting restrictions.
The Huskies self-reported the violations last year and forfeited a scholarship this season. They’ll give up one more next season and a third in 2012-13.
“We felt that the penalties that were imposed are adequate and fair in regard to the allegations,” committee chairman Dennis Thomas, the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, said on a conference call. “The head coach is responsible for what’s going on in his program.”
The penalties against the program don’t include a postseason ban, which Thomas said was among the possible penalties considered. The Huskies have a 20-6 record this season and are pursuing a 17th trip to the NCAA tournament in the past 22 years under Calhoun.
“I will not make any further statements about the case as our program prepares for what I hope will be an exciting and successful postseason,” Calhoun said.
Hall of Fame Coach
Calhoun, 68, is in his 25th year at Connecticut, where he has a 595-227 record. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 and has an 843-364 record in 39 seasons as a college head coach.
The NCAA and university began investigating the basketball program after a March 2009 report by Yahoo Sports said that former team manager Josh Nochimson -- described in the NCAA’s report as a booster -- helped steer Nate Miles to Connecticut.
Miles was expelled from the school in 2008 for violating a restraining order and didn’t play for the UConn team that reached the 2009 Final Four.
Calhoun, in his “zeal” to get Miles admitted to the school and eligible to compete, allowed Nochimson, who was a certified agent by the National Basketball Association, to be involved in the recruiting process and “overlooked indications” that the booster might be breaking NCAA rules, the infractions committee said.
The NCAA said Nochimson provided Miles with impermissible inducements that included the payment of at least a portion of the expenses for the young man’s foot surgery; the cost of his enrollment at a basketball academy; the registration fee for college testing, and strength, conditioning and basketball training.
“The men’s basketball staff was aware of the booster’s status as an agent and his relationship with the prospect,” the NCAA said in its statement. “In fact, the coaches had frequent contact with the booster through approximately 2,000 phone calls or text messages with the agent throughout the recruitment process. Despite this regular contact, the men’s basketball coaching staff did not question the booster about his relationship with the prospect.”
In October 2010, Connecticut acknowledged recruiting violations and self-imposed sanctions that included two years’ probation and the loss of two scholarships. The school defended Calhoun in its report.
The infractions committee said today that “based on the scope and nature of the violations,” Calhoun failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance and failed to monitor the program regarding phone calls, text messages and inducements provided by the booster.
The NCAA added an extra year for the probationary period, stripped the program of an additional scholarship and said Connecticut must permanently disassociate itself from Nochimson.
Among the recruiting restrictions UConn faces is a reduction in off-campus recruiting visits and number of phone calls to prospective recruits.
“We are disappointed that the committee determined that additional penalties needed to be imposed,” Connecticut Athletic Director Jeffrey Hathaway said. “We value the principles of the NCAA and fully recommit ourselves to running a program of impeccable integrity.”