Commentary

UConn could face harsher penalties

Updated: October 11, 2010, 1:58 PM ET
By Dick Vitale

Over the years, Jim Calhoun has built a special program at the University of Connecticut. It really has come from nowhere to develop into one of the elite programs on the college basketball landscape.

Think about all of the great players who have put on that Huskies uniform over the years -- Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon, Rudy Gay, Donyell Marshall, Caron Butler and on and on. Over a dozen stars in the NBA in recent years! It is amazing when you consider that this is a school that used to be in the Yankee Conference!

[+] EnlargeKemba Walker
Rich Kane/Icon SMIKemba Walker said last season's UConn squad lacked chemistry on the court.

Connecticut has built an amazing tradition. The Huskies have two national championship trophies displayed in Storrs, Connecticut. Now, the question is, how much damage has been done with the charges that led to self-punishment by the school? The NCAA has not put this story to bed yet, but will the organization be lenient since the school self-imposed a reduction of a scholarship? This could be a situation where the governing body sends a stricter message that wrongdoing will not be tolerated.

The school imposed its own sanctions, including two years' probation and a loss of one scholarship for the next two seasons. Connecticut claims that members of its basketball staff made impermissible telephone calls and text messages as cited by the NCAA in a May report. There was a 15-month investigation which led to the formal allegations. The school also admitted it improperly provided free game tickets to high school coaches and others.

Connecticut's decision to come forward and self-impose penalties was a good step. The question is, will the penalty be deemed as steep enough punishment? Do the charges and sanctions match up? The NCAA, under new head honcho Mark Emmert, may have a different view.

My personal opinion is that the NCAA will add a more severe penalty to the one levied by Connecticut. Perhaps the NCAA will take into consideration that coach Jim Calhoun has done things the right way throughout this career. How much the NCAA weighs that will be interesting to see.

Remember this, whatever transpires in a basketball program, whether the coach is aware or not totally aware, he is still responsible as the Commander-in-Chief. He has to be accountable for the actions of the people on his staff.

There is a meeting scheduled for the end of the week. We may learn more about a final verdict soon. It will be interesting to see if the NCAA takes a harder stance. How will this affect UConn right now? It could hurt recruiting a bit in the future, but for this season, Kemba Walker and his teammates are concentrating on improving from a disappointing 2009-10 campaign.

We will have to wait and see how this all works out. Jim Calhoun is a Hall of Famer and a proud man. I am sure he is not happy with the black mark that has hit his program.

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.