On Sunday, I was quoted in the Hartford Courant article “UConn’s Testimony Before NCAA Over, Now It’s Time To Wait.” The article, written by the Courant’s Paul Doyle and Mike Anthony, was outstanding. My comments were part of a longer interview with Paul Doyle, and I have posted the text of the interview relating to UConn’s response to the NCAA’s allegations of recruiting violations. Tomorrow, I will post the portion of the interview relating to Coach Jim Calhoun’s response to the NCAA.
Paul Doyle: Do you think UConn went far enough with their self-imposed penalties? Do you think the NCAA will accept UConn’s suggested punishment?
Dan Fitzgerald: I think that recruiting restrictions are proportional penalties for recruiting violations, such as improper text messages and phone calls. To that extent, probation, a scholarship reduction, and a restriction of the number of coaches that are allowed to recruit is fair and will likely be perceived so by the NCAA. However, if the NCAA chooses to characterize this case in terms of improper benefits provided to a student-athlete, rather than impermissible text messages and phone calls to recruits, the NCAA might seek a stronger punishment.
PD: Do you think the NCAA will consider the tangible impact of the self-imposed penalty? In other words, would the NCAA look at UConn’s history of scholarship use — if they’ve really only used 12 scholarships, does the loss of the 13th really “hurt” the program?
DF: I would expect the NCAA to consider whether the self-imposed penalties have the intended punitive effect. But I also expect the NCAA to pay close attention to the remedial measures proposed by the university. Punishment is important, but prevention should be the ultimate goal.
PD: Also, do you think the removal of the two assistant coaches as a sort of pre-emptive strike will be viewed positively by the NCAA?
DF: UConn’s decisive termination of the two assistant coaches is likely to be viewed positively, providing the facts support the terminations. I certainly don’t think termination is necessary if the coaches merely made too many phone calls and sent too many text messages. However, the NCAA doesn’t take too kindly to those who are less than forthright with its investigators, and such allegations are present in this case.