UConn official: NCAA, school discuss investigation

Updated: March 26, 2009, 7:15 PM ET
Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut and the NCAA have discussed an investigation into alleged recruiting violations by the school's men's basketball program, a university official said Thursday.

The official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the allegations, said the school was in contact with the NCAA Wednesday, after Yahoo! Sports reported that an agent who had once been a student manager at UConn helped steer recruit Nate Miles to the school.

Yahoo reported Wednesday that Miles, a 6-7 guard from Toledo, Ohio, was given lodging, transportation, meals and representation by sports agent Josh Nochimson, and that a UConn assistant coach knew about the relationship between the player and the agent. The story cited interviews, documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws and other sources.

Nochimson was considered a representative of UConn's athletic interests by the NCAA and was prohibited from having contact with Miles or giving him anything of value, Yahoo reported. Documents obtained by the Web site showed pages and pages of phone and text message correspondence between Nochimson and Miles.

The Yahoo report also alleged that UConn coaches exceeded limits on the number of phone calls that can be made to recruits during Miles' junior year of high school.

Miles was expelled from UConn in October without ever playing a game for the Huskies after he was charged with violating a restraining order in a case involving a woman who claimed he assaulted her. He played this season for the College of Southern Idaho.

On Thursday, Yahoo reported UConn assistant coach Andre LaFleur had phone conversations of 13 and 44 minutes with Nochimson, who was shadowing Huskies recruit Ater Majok, during the Kentucky Derby All-Star Festival in Louisville, Ky., according to phone records.

A week after the Derby Classic, Majok visited UConn and signed with the school.

Whether any investigation moves to a quick resolution typically depends on whether the school oversees the process itself or includes NCAA enforcement officials, an NCAA spokeswoman said Thursday.

Stacey Osburn, an NCAA spokeswoman, said she could not discuss any potential case at UConn.

Osburn said the NCAA in most instances does not start investigations, but typically is contacted by a school and notified that a violation may have occurred. Schools, as a condition of their NCAA membership, are required to investigate any possible violations they are made aware of, she said.

"When (schools) become aware of possible violations, they are bound to look into those," she said. "If they find they are violations, then they report those to the NCAA."

Osburn said investigations into major violations can be done by the school, or in cooperation with NCAA investigators. If the school opts for an independent investigation, the NCAA's enforcement staff will conduct a separate probe once the alleged violations are reported.

"We would prefer joint investigations," she said. "That way, we can work alongside the school. It's a faster process. It's better for everyone in our view if we can do a joint investigation."

If the enforcement staff feels violations have taken place, the case would go before the NCAA's committee on infractions for a hearing. Committee members typically include law professors, former judges, and representatives of athletic departments from schools and conferences across the nation, Osburn said.

After hearing both sides, that committee determines whether violations have taken place, are they minor or major, and what the penalties should be.

The time it takes between an allegation being reported and the case being resolved can vary widely, Osburn said. If the school and the NCAA staff both agree on what the violations are and what the penalty should be, the case moves along more quickly, she said.

UConn athletic department spokesman Mike Enright said the school would stand by a statement issued Wednesday which said the Yahoo! Sports article had been turned over to outside counsel who would review it and determine if additional action was required.

"The university takes very seriously its responsibilities of NCAA membership and will do all that is expected to follow up on any information related to possible NCAA rules violations," the school said.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, UConn coach Jim Calhoun defended the school's handling of Miles by pointing out that the NCAA had looked into Miles and determined that he was eligible to play basketball at UConn.

But Thursday, the NCAA issued a statement saying its eligibility center was unaware of the allegations that came to light on Wednesday.

"NCAA member institutions and prospective student-athletes share responsibility to provide all applicable information to the NCAA for review during the initial eligibility process....In this instance, the NCAA did not receive the information or any further indications associated to the claims made in the recent Yahoo! story," the NCAA said.

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AP Sports Writer Michael Marot in Indianapolis contributed to this story


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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