Report: UConn exceeded call limits
Connecticut allegedly committed NCAA rules violations in its recruitment of former guard Nate Miles, Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday.
The Web site reported that, according to multiple sources, Miles, a 6-foot-7 guard from Toledo, Ohio, was provided with lodging, transportation, restaurant meals and representation between 2006 and 2008 by Josh Nochimson, a former UConn student manager who had become a professional sports agent who once represented ex-Huskies star Richard Hamilton. Miles was expelled in fall 2008 and never played for UConn.
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said he and the university are looking into a Yahoo! Sports report, but added Miles is not at UConn and his team remains focused on the NCAA tournament.
Among the infractions reported Wednesday by Yahoo! Sports:
• One of UConn's assistants knew about the relationship between Nate Miles and Josh Nochimson, a former student manager turned sports agent, as early as fall 2006.
• Phone records show UConn coaches may have exceeded limits on phone calls and text messages to Miles and others close to him. In December 2006, for example, former UConn assistant coach Tom Moore made 27 calls to Miles' guardian and a person Miles referred to as an uncle, as well as three calls to Miles. The limit is one.
According to the report, one of UConn's assistant coaches knew about the relationship between Nochimson and Miles as early as fall 2006, and that phone records show UConn coaches made thousands of phone calls and text messages to Nochimson during the next two years.
Miles could not be reached for comment. A cell phone number used by The Associated Press to contact him in the past was answered Wednesday by his uncle, Thomas Pettigrew of Toledo, Ohio, who said the NCAA needs to do more to prevent recruiting violations.
"I just think he got mixed up with the wrong people," Pettigrew said. "There was a whole bunch of adults who should have been doing their job instead of doing what they did.
"That's how society is. They chew you up and spit you out. If they can use you, they use you. I think he whole situation is funny, because I'm sure there are people who are supposed to be looking over that."
Pettigrew added, "No matter what anybody says about him, my nephew is a great basketball player and a good person."
Calhoun, in Glendale, Ariz., Wednesday as the team prepared for an NCAA regional semifinal against Purdue Thursday night, did not specifically respond to the story's allegations. He pointed out that Miles is "not involved with our program" and said he is not concerned about the issue distracting the Huskies' quest for a third national title.
"We can keep our kids focused on what we're going to do, let them understand that the university ... will handle anything else that needs to be handled," Calhoun said. "We can't do anything about it. The only thing we can do is play basketball and hopefully advance our way to Saturday."
UConn is the No. 1 seed in the tournament's West Regional.
Miles is not the only recent UConn signee tied to Nochimson. A source told ESPN.com that Nochimson personally shepherded Ater Majok -- a 6-foot-10 forward who is not eligible to play with the Huskies until after the end of the 2009 fall semester -- through his appearance in a high-school all-star game in spring 2008.
A source close to the Kentucky Derby Festival All-Star Game in Louisville said Nochimson was the conduit to getting Majok, a former Sudanese refugee who attained Australian citizenship. Nochimson put Derby Festival officials in contact with Majok's coach in Australia, Ed Smith, and Smith wound up on the coaching staff of one of the all-star teams.
Nochimson arrived in Louisville with Majok and stayed in the headquarters hotel with the players.
"[Nochimson] was very protective of [Majok]," the source said. "He was very involved with the kid."
The game was played April 19 at Freedom Hall. Ten days later, Majok verbally committed to UConn, but his enrollment had been held up because of questions about his academic qualifications. The NCAA cleared him to enroll in mid-January, and he is allowed to practice, but not play, with the team.
Through a university spokesman, UConn declined comment regarding Majok.
Under NCAA regulations, Nochimson is deemed a representative of UConn's athletic interests because of his connection to the basketball program. Therefore, he was barred from recruiting Miles, from contacting Miles or his family, or from providing anything of value to Miles.
The program also may have exceeded the number of phone calls allowed to Miles under NCAA regulations during its recruiting, Yahoo! Sports reported, citing phone records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.
The University of Connecticut released a statement on Wednesday in response to Yahoo! Sports' story about its recruiting of Nate Miles. For the full statement, click here.
The NCAA allows a single phone call per month to a prospect or his family in a player's junior year of high school. Yahoo! Sports reported that according to records, UConn coaches exceeded that limit in several months in 2006 and 2007 in the program's recruitment of Miles. In December 2006 alone, former UConn assistant coach Tom Moore made 27 calls to Miles' guardian and a person Miles referred to as an uncle, as well as three calls to Miles.
The Web site also reported that Moore, now the coach at Quinnipiac University, at had made Nochimson aware that UConn was recruiting Miles and that he knew Nochimson and Miles had talked.
According to records obtained by Yahoo! Sports, five UConn coaches traded at least 1,565 phone and text messages with Nochimson during a two-year period, including 16 from coach Jim Calhoun.
Nochimson declined comment to Yahoo! Sports.
Quinnipiac athletic director Jack McDonald released this statement in regard to Moore's involvement: "We are aware of today's news report Although no Quinnipiac University recruits or student-athletes were involved, we have contacted the NCAA to indicate we will cooperate in any manner necessary moving forward. We remain fully supportive of head coach Tom Moore."
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, UConn said that during its recruitment of Miles, it had worked with the NCAA's outside counsel to examine Miles' amateur status and found that he was eligible to compete his freshman year. Miles was expelled after he was charged with violating a restraining order against a woman who alleged he had assaulted her.
"University outside counsel and administrators are continuing to review the article to determine if additional action is required, " the university statement said. "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."
UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway, who was in Boston at the East Regional because of his duties as a member of the NCAA tournament selection committee, said Wednesday that the statement "covers" the university response. Hathaway said he and Calhoun were "focused on the game," and said the NCAA had fully vetted Miles' eligibility and was aware of everything "the whole way."
Miles, who is now at the College of Southern Idaho, at first told Yahoo! Sports that he did not know who Nochimson was, then said Nochimson had acted as his adviser. A call to Miles' mobile phone went unanswered Wednesday, the AP reported.
Because Miles didn't play in any game for UConn -- he was expelled before preseason practice began -- there is no chance for forfeiture of games, meaning that the Huskies' pursuit of the 2009 national title should not be affected. The Huskies' 2008-09 season also includes Calhoun's 800th career victory.
Katz reported that, according to a source with direct knowledge of NCAA procedures, based on the level of detail in the Yahoo! Sports report, the NCAA is expected to look into the allegations. According to the source, the decision on how to proceed should come quickly, possibly within the next 24 hours. But the ensuing investigation could take months.
The NCAA likely will focus on the amount of telephone calls made, whether the coaches knew that Miles had a relationship with a registered agent who also was a UConn alumnus, and if they did know, to what degree, the source said. Kelvin Sampson's case of impermissible phone calls at Indiana brought about a tweaking in an NCAA bylaw that may apply, according to the source. The NCAA now has a possible violation description that details a lack of "coach control." The coach, according to the source, is obligated to create an atmosphere of compliance.
Going forward, UConn is expected to take the approach that it will defend itself to the NCAA, rather than sound off publicly, despite public opinion that would likely work against it as an investigation unfolds. UConn is also expected to defend the nature of the calls to Nochimson, in particular claiming that at least one of the lengthy calls made by Calhoun -- a 58-minute call in 2007, while Miles was attending Calhoun's summer basketball camp -- was about Hamilton, not Miles.
According to the Yahoo! Sports report, player agents have increasingly become involved in players' lives while they are still amateurs, in the hopes they can land them as NBA clients when they turn pro. The trend has grown to agents steering players to specific schools, with college coaches reciprocating by delivering the player back to the agent when he decides to turn pro.
"We're concerned in terms of agents steering certain kids to certain [schools]," Rachel Newman Baker, the NCAA's director of agent, gambling and amateurism activity, told Yahoo! Sports. "We're concerned about agreements under the table between agents and even our college coaches."
In 2006, Moore was in Chicago watching Miles at a prep tournament when he told his former student manager, Nochimson, who was there to scout potential future clients, that UConn was recruiting the 6-foot-7 shooting guard. By that evening, Miles said he had met Nochimson, according to the report.
The fact that Moore knew Nochimson and Miles were talking was an NCAA violation, according to the Yahoo! Sports report. Asked if he had lost sight of the fact that Nochimson was also a representative of UConn's athletic interests under NCAA rules, Moore said: "Probably. I looked at him as a young professional working as an agent, doing what he does in his career."
Miles gave conflicting statements about his relationship with Nochimson, according to the report. After at first saying he'd never heard of Nochimson, Miles said he had been his adviser. But he denied that Nochimson had ever provided him with meals or other benefits. When asked if Nochimson had arranged for him to attend IMG's Basketball Academy and Pro Training Center in Bradenton, Fla. -- which the center's director, Mike Moreau, confirmed was the case to Yahoo! Sports -- Miles ended the interview.
Nochimson has moved to decertify himself as an agent after Hamilton fired him and accused him of stealing more than $1 million from him, according to the report.
Meanwhile, Quinnipiac must wait to see how Moore may be affected and how UConn might respond. The alleged violations happened while Moore was a UConn assistant, and according to a source, Quinnipiac would not have access to information in an ongoing investigation.
Information from ESPN.com's Andy Katz and Pat Forde and The Associated Press was used in this report.