Fri May 28 11:51am EDT
Thirty minutes into a Friday morning news conference in response to an NCAA investigation into his program, Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun revealed his day of misery was only just beginning.
"At 11:45, I have some good news," he said wryly. "I have a root canal."
That the dental work was probably the highlight of Calhoun's morning speaks to the severity of the eight violations the NCAA has accused UConn of committing. The alleged infractions include improper phone calls and text messages to recruits, impermissible benefits provided to recruits by members of the basketball staff and a failure by Calhoun "to promote an atmosphere of compliance."
Connecticut has until Aug. 20 to respond to the NCAA's notice of allegations, the first steps of which came Thursday night when it was revealed that assistant coaches Pat Sellers and Beau Archibald had agreed to step down. School officials repeatedly declined comment regarding specifics about the violations, potential penalties or the circumstances of Sellers' and Archibald's resignation, but Calhoun defended his program in general terms.
"It's not exactly the high point of my career. As a matter of fact, it's certainly one of the lowest points," Calhoun said. "Nobody wants this to happen. Did I see it happening? No. But it happened. Therefore we're going to handle it the way we always handle things: Up front, transparently. We'll do the best we possibly can to find out what we have here. If we have made mistakes, we'll carry on."
The NCAA and the school launched their 15-month investigation into the basketball program in response to a Yahoo! Sports report detailing blatant violations committed in the recruitment of Nate Miles. The report alleged that UConn coaches had impermissible contact with former student manager Josh Nochimson, a one-time basketball agent who provided Miles with lodging, transportation and meals to help guide him to the Huskies program.
The NCAA's notice of allegations includes at least 160 impermissible calls and at least 181 impermissible text messages to prospective recruits between June 2005 and February 2009. Archibald made 114 of those calls, and other assistants and Calhoun placed the rest, though the names of the recipients were blacked out in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Two members of the Connecticut basketball staff — Archibald and Sellers — were cited by the NCAA for "providing false and misleading information" to investigators. The notice says Archibald denied any relationship with Nochimson associate Ron Shade, despite phone records showing he made 16 phone calls to Shade including one on Christmas Day 2007.
Connecticut provided no hints how it will react to the NCAA's accusations, but the attorney the school has hired as representation throughout this process outlined its next step.
"The institution has been lock-step with the NCAA all the way through and in certain instances, we were all involved with it," attorney Rick Evrard said. "The NCAA at this point in time has said we're finished with our investigation and here are the charges we think we can support. Now it's up to the institution to respond."