Jim Calhoun's strategy during the Nate Miles scandal has been to feign ignorance about the alleged violations his program committed, but it's becoming increasingly difficult for the UConn coach to justify that charade.
According to the Hartford Courant, Calhoun and his staff received a warning in 1999 that the NCAA considered former team manager Josh Nochimson a sports agent and he was not to have any contact with prospective players. The UConn basketball coaches apparently ignored that memo, placing hundreds of calls and texts to Nochimson in 2006 and 2007 and fostering a relationship between him and Miles.
That Calhoun and his staff disregarded the warning from their compliance department about Nochimson surely won't be forgotten when the NCAA determines UConn's penalty later this year. It also probably won't thrill the NCAA that Calhoun has grown increasingly brash and cavalier in the face of looming sanctions.
Instead of remaining tight-lipped about the specifics of the case as UConn officials did the day the NCAA released its findings, Calhoun went off script during an interview with the Connecticut Post at an American Cancer Society event on Sunday. He defended the program's integrity, likened the Huskies' situation to a routine investigation in other industries and asserted that the program will emerge from this mostly unscathed.
"I will maintain that we've run a very clean, compliant program. If mistakes have been made, we'll find that out.
"If someone made three calls in a week and one of them was a three-second call that someone dropped, and didn't report it? Well...,"
"The bottom line is give us the 90 days. I think that a lot of things that have been said, or at least alleged, will disappear. And I think there will be some things that we probably, maybe can or can't answer -- nothing major."
Nothing major? Seriously?
As Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs wrote this morning, this is already something major and the NCAA hasn't even handed down its punishment yet. Two assistant coaches have lost their jobs. The university has racked up about half a million in legal fees. And the reputation of Calhoun and his program have been forever tarnished.
Calhoun could repair some of the damage by acknowledging serious mistakes were made, owning up to his role in them and earnestly pledging to not to take such foolish risks in the future.
Instead he'll continue to distance himself from all accusations. Let's just hope everyone around him is smart enough to see through it.