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Jim Calhoun, of all people, says college sports are 'alive and well'

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Of all the coaches to defend the integrity of college athletics, UConn's Jim Calhoun would have been an unlikely choice.

Speaking on Friday at a banquet honoring former Huskies star Emeka Okafor as role model of the year, Calhoun told the Hartford Courant that college athletics isn't the cesspool it's often portrayed to be. Calhoun's comments came two months after the NCAA accused UConn of committing eight major violations and the same week as a flurry of reports alleging agent-related infractions in college basketball and football.

"You're being misled by the media, just like you're being misled on so many other things," Calhoun said. "They call it the swamp, college athletics. It's not a swamp. It's a tiny, tiny drop that's bad. Everything else is incredible.

"Yes, occasionally we have a bad apple. Yes, occasionally kids go wrong. I really believe that, and that's why we try to give them a second chance. More importantly, college athletics is alive and well."

Calhoun clearly either disagrees with or didn't read the comments 20 of his peers made to ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil in a coaching survey designed to allow them to anonymously air their grievances about what's wrong with college basketball. In the story, coaches bemoan the way the game has fallen victim to agents and runners and the fact that coaches can't trust their peers to follow the rules.

Since the NCAA accused UConn of making improper phone calls to recruits and not promoting an atmosphere of compliance, Calhoun has drawn criticism for downplaying the significance of the violations and asserting the Huskies will emerge unscathed.

To defend UConn against NCAA investigators will be difficult. To defend the integrity of all of college athletics is downright impossible.

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