Source: NCAA to probe UConn

Updated: March 27, 2009, 2:04 AM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

The NCAA enforcement staff has begun an investigation into alleged violations within the men's basketball program at Connecticut, a source with direct knowledge of the process told ESPN.com on Thursday.

The alleged violations, reported by Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday, center on the program's recruitment of former guard Nate Miles between 2006 and 2008. According to the report, phone records show thousands of calls and text messages between the school's coaches and former UConn student manager turned pro basketball agent Josh Nochimson. He was acting as Miles' adviser, as well as a contact between UConn and Miles exceeding NCAA-mandated monthly limits for phone calls to a prospect.

Thursday night Yahoo Sports! further reported that UConn assistant coach Andre LaFleur may have had contact with Nochimson.

Sports Illustrated.com reported earlier Thursday on its Web site that according to a source, a member of the NCAA's amateurism and agents staff made contact with UConn officials to request that the school conduct its own investigation. According to that report, the source said that the NCAA would not decide whether to launch its own probe of UConn until the school reported back its own findings.

But a source with direct knowledge of the process told ESPN.com that decisions on how to proceed with the case have already been made. Due to the potential for major NCAA violations as detailed in the Yahoo! report, the body's enforcement staff will take the lead in the investigation, rather than its eligibility staff or its agents, amateurism and gambling staff.

The source said that the university did not have a choice in whether to pursue an investigation, saying that it is the obligation of the member and the NCAA to conduct a probe, based on the depth of information contained in the Yahoo! Sports report. That report cited phone records detailing calls made by UConn coaches to Miles and to former UConn student manager Josh Nochimson, and what UConn assistant Tom Moore -- now the coach at Quinnipiac -- knew of the Nochimson-Miles relationship.

Yahoo! Sports 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 Nochimson, who had become a professional sports agent and formerly represented ex-Huskies star Richard Hamilton. Miles, now a student at the College of Southern Idaho, was expelled last fall after allegedly violating a restraining order. He never played a game for UConn.

As a representative of UConn's athletic interests under NCAA policy, Nochimson was barred from having any contact with UConn's recruits and their families or providing UConn recruits with anything of value.

Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said he and the university are looking into the report, but added Miles is not at UConn and his team remains focused on the NCAA tournament.

According to the report, one of UConn's assistant coaches knew about the relationship between Nochimson and Miles as early as fall 2006, and phone records show UConn coaches made thousands of phone calls and text messages to Nochimson during the next two years.

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.

The NCAA enforcement staff will also work with the body's eligibility center to see what facts it knew when it cleared Miles to compete this season. According to the source, the eligibility center may have been dealing only with Miles' academic record -- he attended five high schools in four states -- and may have had no knowledge of Nochimson's role in Miles' affairs when he was deemed eligible.

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.

UConn assistant coach Andre LaFleur engaged in two lengthy phone conversations with Nochimson while he shadowed Majok, Yahoo! Sports reported on Thursday.

Nochimson and LaFleur traded three phone calls, including conversations of 13 and 44 minutes, during the Kentucky Derby All-Star Festival in Louisville, Ky., phone records show.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. Information from ESPN.com's Pat Forde and The Associated Press was also used in this story.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

ALSO SEE