Huskies still face uncertainties
STORRS, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut struck a serious and accepting tone at Friday's news conference rather than one of defiance after receiving the NCAA's notice of allegations regarding major recruiting violations in pursuing former signee Nate Miles.
The fallout from the report has already cost two coaches their jobs -- assistant Patrick Sellers and director of basketball operations Beau Archibald -- and will likely hurt recruiting in the near future. It might also have a direct effect on who might succeed Huskies Hall of Fame head coach Jim Calhoun when he retires.
Connecticut athletic director Jeff Hathaway; Calhoun; and Rick Evrard, a noted Kansas City-based lawyer who advises schools dealing with NCAA issues, wouldn't get into the decisions on Sellers and Archibald. But Hathaway did say Archibald resigned last Thursday and Sellers turned in his resignation Sunday, two days after appearing on behalf of UConn to watch senior Stanley Robinson at the NBA draft combine in Chicago.
But their fate was a given. The two assistants are specifically named in the notice and singled out for unethical conduct for providing false and misleading information to the NCAA enforcement staff and to the institution. Lying to the NCAA during an investigation is one of the worst offenses, and the Committee on Infractions treats the offenders harshly.
If the facts are agreed upon by the school and the NCAA on this matter, both coaches could be faced with a show-cause penalty, which means that any school that hires them would have to go before the COI to see whether further sanctions apply. Getting a show-cause usually means a coach is toxic and not hirable during the entirety of the sentence.
Sellers and Archibald weren't at Friday's news conference. They issued statements through the university saying that in order to address the allegations, they had to do so separately, away from the university and the basketball staff.
They had no choice. Connecticut never would have let them go on the road recruiting this July after being accused of lying.
Connecticut will hope that the removal of the two assistants will show the COI that the "bad actors are gone." That's the common theme schools have given to the COI in previous cases.
Connecticut didn't announce any self-imposed sanctions at Friday's news conference, but you can be assured that the resignations of Sellers and Archibald will be mentioned when it puts together its response. Evrard said the university is months away from reaching an agreement on the facts in the case and from putting together its response.
Calhoun will likely add to his staff between now and the July evaluation period. Longtime associate head coach George Blaney has not been used in a recruiting role of late. Assistant coach Andre LaFleur will likely get help on the road from a new hire. But there will be other issues for the Huskies that might follow them.
The Huskies had to deal with negative recruiting because of the unknown of Calhoun's contract situation. That was settled when he signed a five-year contract, retroactive to last season, earlier this month. But the unknown penalties in this case, which could result in scholarship reduction and recruiting restrictions rather than a postseason ban because Miles never played for Connecticut, could be an obstruction to securing players in the early signing period.
The COI could also look to depart from precedent and take a stronger approach. There is no chart that specifies what penalty each violation earns.
Calhoun, who turned 68 recently, was cited with a failure-to-monitor charge. He could cop a defense that he didn't know what was going on, but that might not fly with the COI, since Archibald was not in a recruiting role but was conducting himself as a full-time recruiting assistant. The COI hasn't hammered coaches with any direct penalty for a failure-to-monitor charge, but that could always change. The COI won't buy a coach's argument that he didn't know or just buried his head in the sand. The committee will want answers as to how this occurred.
Calhoun himself wasn't accused of major violations. His assistants were, and that helps his case. But the university was also not about to stand up and scream that their head coach did nothing wrong, as there is a direct allegation of a failure to monitor that they will have to respond to in their report Aug. 20.
This will be a distraction for the program, since the hearing in Indianapolis falls on the first day of college basketball practice, Oct. 15. The hearings are scheduled for two days and could stretch into Saturday, Oct. 16. The NCAA's letter states that the COI expects Hathaway, Calhoun and LaFleur to be in attendance, among others. (Sellers and Archibald are also requested.) Blaney wasn't on the list.
Connecticut has traditionally held a Midnight Madness-type celebration for the men's and women's teams, and it probably will hold one again, as the women's team won the national title last month.
The COI then has six to eight weeks before it publicly issues its results and/or sanctions against the school and/or individuals. That means there will be multiple distractions next season -- one for the hearing at the beginning, and another six to eight weeks later when the results are released. Connecticut could be at the Maui Invitational over Thanksgiving when the sanctions are released.
The future of UConn basketball might have taken a turn as well. The potential candidacy of Tom Moore as Calhoun's replacement was always a possibility. Moore was a central figure in the original report on the violations regarding Miles, depicted as the one who introduced Miles to former manager-turned-agent Josh Nochimson, the primary figure in this case.
Moore, now the head coach at Quinnipiac, where he has a contract through 2015, wasn't named specifically in the report. But he was mentioned twice in references to the associate head men's basketball coach in 2005 who made nine impermissible telephone calls over a four-month period.
If the coach isn't named in the report, he's not deemed at risk for possible sanctions. But the COI could disagree with the enforcement staff's decision on that charge and decide to sanction the coach. It's uncommon, but the COI does have that discretion.
But Moore dramatically hurt himself at Connecticut with his proactive move Thursday night. Moore made his Kansas City-based attorney Scott Tompsett available to answer questions on his behalf, saying that Moore had been exonerated. Tompsett was the only person speaking on the record about the case Thursday night.
According to multiple sources, Moore's approach the night before the news conference angered UConn officials. Moore had made the story about his exoneration the primary focus. Moore escaped blame in this case but didn't endear himself to decision-makers at Connecticut.
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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