Sure, UConn coach and Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun, he of two national championships, took a whack from the NCAA when the organization finally rendered its decision Tuesday afternoon, after a nearly two-year investigation.
Maybe a light slap on the wrist is a more appropriate term.
“Failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance,” is what the NCAA deemed of Calhoun.
Now Calhoun will have to sit and watch the first three Big East games next season.
Life will go on, just as it has for former USC coach Tim Floyd, like it has for Kentucky’s John Calipari and for Louisville’s Rick Pitino.
Bruce Pearl missed eight SEC games earlier this season, yet the Tennessee coach – after outright lying to the NCAA – still will be patrolling the sidelines next month when the Volunteers play in the NCAA tournament.
No one talks about Floyd, now at UTEP, and his dealings with O.J. Mayo anymore. Calipari never was linked officially to the academic questions with former Memphis star Derrick Rose, and Pitino’s affair with Karen Sypher has become a distant memory.
Calhoun won’t be remembered as that guy who failed "to promote an atmosphere of compliance.”
His legacy will be what he did on the court to build the UConn program from scratch, the national championships in 1999 and 2004 and the 595 victories while in Storrs.
Just as former Arizona coach Lute Olson will be regarded for what he built in Tucson – and not the signature he put on a letter to boosters asking for help with a local tournament that attracted key recruits.
The NCAA hit UConn with more scholarship restrictions (the Huskies will lose one in each of the next three years), fewer days the staff is able to go out and recruit (UConn loses 40 days in each of the next three years) and also three years of probation.
Sounds harsh, right?
None of that matters.
Georgetown has done just fine over the years by utilizing 10 scholarships on its own accord. UConn would be just fine this season even without its 12th and 13th men – Michael Bradley and Enosch Wolf.
The loss of recruiting days is fairly irrelevant, also. Recruiting isn’t done on the road anymore. That’s just when babysitting the top high school players occurs, when coaches travel halfway across the country just to let a kid know their level of love. The real work these days is done behind the scenes, much coming with agents who have the power to steer kids to certain schools.
“The head coach has to adhere to the rules and regulations in the NCAA,” said NCAA chairman of infractions Dennis Thomas, who is also the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. “Not allowing an agent to become involved in the program is part of that. That’s part of the responsibility of the head coach.”
But that’s not the real world – and that’s why former UConn director of basketball operations Beau Archibald was dealing with ex-Huskies manager-turned-agent Josh Nochimson, who had a level of power or “juice” with prospect Nate Miles.
These days, you have no choice. It’s why Louisville’s Pitino, among others, has a close relationship with agent Andy Miller. It’s why many coaches have done their best to get in the good graces with William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley, who was previously a power broker and has now joined agent Leon Rose. Calhoun is tight with agent Jeff Schwartz, who represents four former UConn players.
There were approximately 2,000 calls and texts between the UConn staff and Nochimson, who has been permanently disassociated from the program by the NCAA. Now the school won’t be able to accept any “financial contributions, recruiting assistance or provide him with any benefit and privileges.”
So, now Nochimson is out of the fold, the Huskies — like just about everyone else – will have to turn elsewhere for help in getting talent to Storrs.
Calhoun issued a statement Tuesday indicating he’s taking these sanctions very seriously. “I am very disappointed with the NCAA’s decision in this case,” he said. “My lawyer and I are evaluating my options and will make a decision which way to proceed."
Eventually, all of this will subside. Calhoun will be the topic of conversation for a brief period – maybe a day or two – before it all becomes old news. Then, if the 68-year-old (he turns 69 on May 10) decides to continue coaching next year, it’ll be associate head coach George Blaney on the sidelines for the first three games of the Big East schedule.
Then it’ll go away again, and eventually Calhoun will ride into the proverbial sunset.
Not as the guy who was hit with a suspension by the NCAA or was told he didn’t adhere to an atmosphere of compliance.
But, instead, as the coach who brought two national championships to Storrs.