UConn in Indianapolis for Hearing with NCAA

UConn officials are in Indianapolis meeting with the NCAA regarding allegations of recruiting violations and the university’s response to those allegations.  Next week Connecticut Sports Law will be posting a Q&A about UConn’s response to the NCAA’s allegations.  Also, see the AP’s article below:

INDIANAPOLIS — Coach Jim Calhoun and other University of Connecticut officials went behind closed doors Friday with NCAA investigators, hoping to convince them that the school has done enough to punish itself for recruiting violations in the men’s basketball program.

President Philip Austin, athletic director Jeff Hathaway and Calhoun testified before the NCAA’s committee on infractions in a hotel conference room. Hathaway and Calhoun both declined comment before the session began.

The school last week acknowledged violations stemming from the recruitment of former player Nate Miles, but denied an allegation that Calhoun failed to foster an atmosphere of compliance in the program.

Rich Karcher, director of the center for law and sports at the Florida Coastal School of Law, says the school could face additional sanctions if the NCAA affirms that allegation.

“The self-imposed sanctions are essentially a minimum floor,” he said. “The NCAA may impose more, but they certainly are not going to reduce what the university self-imposed.”

A decision from the NCAA is not expected for several months.

Under the self-imposed sanctions, scholarships for men’s basketball have been reduced from 13 to 12 for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years. The school also has agreed to reduce the number of coaches who make calls to recruits and the number of “recruiting person days.” The school also put itself on probation for two years, which Karcher said will include some increased reporting requirements.

The NCAA and the school have been investigating the program since shortly after a report by Yahoo! Sports in March 2009 that Josh Nochimson helped guide Miles to UConn, giving him lodging, transportation, meals and representation.

As a former team manager, Nochimson is considered a representative of UConn’s athletic interests by the NCAA and prohibited from having contact with Miles or giving him anything of value.

The school said it found that the basketball staff exchanged more than 1,400 calls and 1,100 text messages with Nochimson between June 2005 and December 2008.

Miles was expelled from UConn in October 2008 without ever playing a game for the Huskies. He was charged with violating a restraining order in a case involving a woman who claimed he assaulted her.

Neither he nor Nochimson cooperated with the NCAA investigation.

Calhoun has said he investigated whether there was an improper relationship between Nochimson and the recruit, and warned the player against getting involved with Nochimson.

The school also has admitted that five players from last year’s team also received improper calls. They were declared ineligible when the school discovered the calls, and were reinstated by the NCAA last November.

Karcher said that doesn’t mean UConn will avoid sanctions.

“If you had ineligible players that played in games, then if the NCAA is going to be consistent with past practices, it could vacate some wins,” he said.

Two members of last year’s basketball staff, Beau Archibald, the director of basketball operations, and assistant coach Patrick Sellers lost their jobs after allegations they provided false and misleading information to NCAA investigators. Both were expected to testify before the committee Friday.

The hearing was held just hours before UConn opens practice for the upcoming season. It wasn’t clear whether Calhoun would make it back in time to participate in the “First Night” activities for the fans, but associate head coach George Blaney said Calhoun will be back when the real work begins on Saturday.

“You don’t know how long those meetings could be,” Blaney said. “The initial plan is that he would be back late Friday night.” UConn was 18-16 last season and lost in the second round of the NIT.

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