UConn self-imposes penalties against basketball program

The University of Connecticut has placed its men’s basketball program on two years probation and limited its scholarships by one over each of the next two seasons in response to a NCAA investigation into improper benefits provided by a former team manager turned professional sports agent to a recruit.

UConn filed its response to eight major rule violations – including offering to impose its own penalties – to the NCAA last month. The report was made public Friday. The Huskies will appear before the NCAA’s committee on infractions Oct. 15-16. That infractions committee can still apply additional penalties, including further scholarship reductions. It’s common for a school to self-sanction in an effort to soften the blow before the infractions committee.

Connecticut admitted to committing major NCAA violations but is fighting some charges against coach Jim Calhoun.
(David Butler II/US Presswire)

The case stems around the relationship between Josh Nochimson, a former team manager who became a sports agent, and player Nate Miles, who was dismissed from the school in the fall of 2008 prior to playing a single game after he violated a restraining order from a female student.

[The Dagger: Sanctions may not prevent future penalties]

The violations were first reported by Yahoo! Sports in March of 2009.

“I am deeply disappointed the university is in this position,” UConn President Philip E. Austin said in a statement. “It is clear mistakes have been made. This is a serious matter and we have worked in full cooperation with the NCAA. We look forward to fully resolving these issues and restoring our men’s basketball program to a level of unquestioned integrity.”

UConn agreed with most of the NCAA’s findings although it is fighting a charge that coach Jim Calhoun “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance” and failed to “monitor” his staff.

At issue is Nochimson, who served the dual role of pro sports agent and, as an alum and formerly part of the basketball program, fits the definition of a “representative of the UConn’s athletic interests.” As such, he is not allowed to have any contact with a prospective recruit and can’t provide anything of value.

However, then associate head coach Tom Moore pointed out Miles and some of his inner circle to Nochimson at a recruiting event outside Chicago and was aware they had formed a relationship that day.

Other members of the UConn staff, including Calhoun, were also aware of the ongoing relationship. Nochimson and Miles became close over a nearly two-year period.

While Calhoun, in the university response, claimed he repeatedly cautioned Miles about taking extra benefits from Nochimson, it’s a moot point. Just knowing the recruit and the representative were talking is a major violation.

Prior to enrolling at UConn, Miles received transportation, meals, housing and had Nochimson play a role in toe surgery, according to a Yahoo! Sports investigation. Miles, originally from Toledo, Ohio, attended five high schools in four states prior to UConn. Since being dismissed from the school he played junior college ball and made an attempt at the NBA’s Developmental League.

The NCAA also found the basketball staff, including Calhoun, had exceeded the number of permissible phone calls and left complimentary tickets to recruiting contacts that aren’t allowed under NCAA statutes. UConn also applied self-sanctions limiting phone conversation and days spent recruiting off campus.

Two assistant coaches, Patrick Sellers and Beau Archibald, resigned last June after providing false and misleading information to NCAA investigators.

UConn finished 18-16 last season and was eliminated from the National Invitational Tournament in the second round.

The NCAA infractions committee should deliver its final verdict and penalties, if any, by the end of the year.

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Updated Friday, Oct 8, 2010