Calhoun: 'Mistake' was possible

Updated: March 27, 2009, 7:52 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Connecticut men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun says he "could have made a mistake" in the recruiting of Nate Miles. The NCAA says it didn't make any mistakes at all in clearing Miles to play. And a Florida newspaper report says that an agent and former UConn student manager who was reportedly advising Miles may have paid for a surgery while the player was in high school.

"Do I know if any has been made? No, I'm not making judgment one way or the other," Calhoun said Friday, as the top-seeded Huskies prepared for the West Regional final against Missouri in Glendale, Ariz. "I said could there have been a mistake made.

"I have done this for 37 years," he added. "I truly believe that everything I have tried to do, I have done with a good, clean conscience and if we made a mistake, we'll find out about it. If we didn't, we will also find out about that."

Yahoo! Sports reported Wednesday that Connecticut may have committed recruiting violations in its pursuit of Miles a year ago. The report, citing phone records, said that UConn was in contact with Josh Nochimson, a former student and manager at the school, and an assistant coach knew of his relationship as an agent for Miles. Yahoo! Sports' report also said that UConn exceeded the number of allowable contacts with Miles, also citing phone records.

Friday's updates:

[+] EnlargeJim Calhoun
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesJim Calhoun has led his Huskies to the Elite Eight despite distractions.

• Yahoo! Sports quoted Calhoun after Thursday's win over Purdue as saying, in regards to the recruiting of Miles: "Could I have made a mistake? Sure. The [rules] manual is 508 pages. Someone could've made a mistake."

He added: "I've heard the expression that clear skies don't fear thunder. I feel very good after talking to my athletic director and talking to the people working on the situation right now. But could it be hurtful? Yeah, it could be hurtful."

• The NCAA released an unusually strong statement refuting an earlier statement issued by Connecticut, which claimed Miles had been cleared to play by the NCAA.

"NCAA member institutions and prospective student-athletes share responsibility to provide all applicable information to the NCAA for review during the initial eligibility process," the statement said. "The NCAA Eligibility Center determines a prospective student-athlete's eligibility to compete in college athletics based on the Association's academic and amateurism requirements. During this process, the NCAA evaluates all the information provided and reviews further if appropriate. In this instance, the NCAA did not receive the information or any further indications associated to the claims made in the recent Yahoo! story."

On Wednesday, UConn released a four-paragraph statement which said, in part: "When the University began its recruitment of the student-athlete named in the article, it utilized the University's outside counsel on NCAA related matters who worked collaboratively with the NCAA staff to examine all aspects of his amateur status, as is expected under NCAA rules. The NCAA's Eligibility Center reviewed all information that it had concerning the student-athlete's eligibility status and determined that he was eligible for his freshman year."

• And The Tampa Tribune reported Friday that a Tampa-area surgeon said that he performed surgery on Miles in 2007 and that Nochimson told the surgeon he was going to pay for it. Dr. M. Christopher MacLaren, who worked with the Tampa Bay Bone and Joint Center at the time, told the Tribune that he performed a surgical procedure he wouldn't name (citing HIPAA laws) on Miles, and that he remembered Nochimson saying he was going to pay the $8,000-$10,000 bill. It is not immediately clear who in fact paid the bill.

"Miles had no health insurance, I do know that," MacLaren said, according to the Tribune. "Josh called me and said how much is this going to cost. I said I don't know the exact cost, I don't do the billing. I gave him the number for the billing department."

MacLaren also told the Tribune he checked to see if the bill was paid, and was told that it was. Miles had committed to UConn at the time of the reported surgery, but had not yet enrolled.

The Tribune said that MacLaren's account was initially reported by J.P. Peterson on "Happy Hour with J.P." on Tampa's 1010 CBS Sports Radio.

Asked about that report, Calhoun replied, "I have no response."

Miles was expelled from UConn last October after being charged with violating a restraining order. He never played for the Huskies.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports reported that phone records show thousands of calls and text messages between the school's coaches and Nochimson, who was advising Miles at the time. In addition, contact between UConn and Miles exceeded NCAA-mandated monthly limits for phone calls to a prospect.

The report also said that a UConn assistant coach knew of the link between Miles and Nochimson, who is considered a representative of UConn's athletic interests by the NCAA. That prohibits him from having contact with Miles, or giving him anything of value, while he is being recruited. The Yahoo! report said that Miles was given lodging, transportation and meals by Nochimson.

ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that another UConn recruit, 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 -- was shepherded through his appearance in a high school all-star game in spring 2008 by Nochimson. Thursday night Yahoo! Sports reported that UConn assistant coach Andre LaFleur talked extensively to Nochimson during that period.

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