NCAA air balls UConn situation

As I watched the NCAA championship game, I could only shake my head in disbelief.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The entire Butler team could not put the ball in the basket, and, as hard as it is to believe, UConn wasn’t much better.

But besides the lack of offensive efficiency both teams, there was something even more disconcerting.

UConn was crowned the 2010-11 NCAA champions.

I’m not saying I despise the Huskies, but it’s what happened leading up to the win that irritates me.

In March 2009, Yahoo! Sports reported UConn violated NCAA rules in recruiting former guard Nate Miles.

Former student manager-turned-sports agent Josh Nochimson provided the four-star recruit from Ohio with lodging, transportation, restaurant meals and representation.

The NCAA found evidence of phone calls and text messages exchanged between Miles, Nochimson and a former UConn assistant coach.

In October 2010, UConn acknowledged the violations that occurred when recruiting Miles, and imposed sanctions on its own men’s basketball program, including a reduction in scholarships in each of the next two seasons and a two-year probation.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun was found guilty for failure to “keep an atmosphere of compliance.”

Sounds familiar, right?

It is eerily close to what happened with the USC men’s basketball program three years ago.

Former guard O.J. Mayo was believed to have accepted improper benefits from Rodney Guillory.

The NCAA, however, had no hard evidence to back up the allegations.

But in January 2010, USC chose to self-impose sanctions, which included a reduction in scholarships, a forfeiture of victories during the 2007-08 season and a four-year probation.

More damaging than the loss of scholarships, though, was a one-year ban on postseason play.

To top it all off, the Trojans also lost five recruits during the NCAA’s investigation, most notably three players who starred in Arizona’s Elite Eight run this March: guard Lamont Jones, forward Solomon Hill and forward Derrick Williams.

In USC’s case, the NCAA decided not to punish the Trojans any further. In UConn’s case, which was rendered in February 2011, the NCAA tacked on another year of probation, reduced the number of scholarships from 13 to 12 and the number of recruiting days for coaches by from 130-90. Calhoun must also miss the first three games of the 2011-12 season.

The biggest difference: UConn was allowed to play in the postseason.

The program didn’t ban itself from postseason play, and apparently, the NCAA thought UConn rightfully had served its punishment.

Nobody cares about a loss of scholarships or a reduction in the coach’s recruiting days — all of that is irrelevant.

Basketball programs can survive with 11 players on a roster, especially an elite program such as UConn’s.

And players just want to play in the postseason; they want to play on the biggest stage known in college basketball known as March Madness.

The NCAA could have banned UConn from the Big East and NCAA tournaments, but it didn’t.

However the NCAA deems what punishments are fair or unfair, it should not provide cheaters with an opportunity to win so easily.

UConn clearly broke the rules, yet now sits atop the collegiate basketball world.

Cheaters should never win, and winners should never cheat.

The pervasive nature of these cheating scandals in collegiate athletics has left a dark cloud over the sport.

But I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m used to this madness by now.


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8 replies
  1. SCFAN
    SCFAN says:

    Great article. We’ll never win the public debate about USC’s just/unjust punishment from the NCAA regarding OJ Mayo and the sanctions. We lost that battle when Haden and Nikias decided to bend over and follow the appeasement strategy versus the truth. Just follow what’s going on with McNair and Reggie – The NCAA knows they eff’ed up.

    We all know the NCAA is corrupt and there’s nothing we can do about it. Hopefully as news of Auburn and the TARP situation come to light, people will finally full understand the severity of what goes on in the SEC and other schools versus what happened with USC and OJ Mayo.

  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    I was looking forward to reading an article about the NCAA erring, which is often and an enjoyable topic for me. After all, they always do what is contrary to common sense when dealing with investigations. Instead, Trevor treated us to journalistic massacre of one sentence paragraph after another of a whine-fest comparing USC’s situation with what happened with the UConn program.

    Mayo was trouble. He violated rule and compromised the program ala Reggie Bush. What was worse was Mayo bailed and left the program in the situation where it lost recruits…which was not part of the self0imposed sanctions, but salt in the wounds.

    To compare UConn to USC is laughable. The entire USC Atheletic Department has done far worse between the two high-profile cases of Bush and Mayo. UConn, while minor and, as the NCAA called them: “secondary,” UConn’s coaching staff punished themselves. While the NCAA may be heavy-handed, they were not going to punish current players for minor infractions from five years ago for a player which never even practiced with the team.

    I’ve always been a fan of the USC-Notre Dame rivalry, and hold the Trojans in high regard. This by Mr. Wong is a bitter and desperate attempt feel better about the whoa-is-me mentality around a program that is jealous of not only UConn, but of Arizona. The Trojans were lucky to make the big dance this year and their prospects for the future are very good. You don’t have to sully the accomplishments and Arizona and Connecticut. To call UConn cheaters could only mean that the Trojans for their part are cheaters AND criminals using Wong logic.

    • Dan
      Dan says:

      I can’t see why you’re arguing there should not be at least some level of discernment by the NCAA. You’re saying there should be no gauging of the level of rules infractions. It’s like saying, it doesn’t matter if you’re caught with 50 kilos of coke, or one ounce marijuana, the punishment should be the same.

      Yet the NCAA has a whole classification system for infractions. Some are secondary, and some are major.

      You are correct though that the NCAA is inconsistent at times. Consider: Duke’s Corey Maggette was caught taking tens of thousands of dollars, and yet Duke was never ever punished for this.

  3. Andrew
    Andrew says:

    Nate Miles never played for the University of Connecticut. That’s why they did not receive a post season ban or have to forfeit any wins. Completely different scenario with O J Mayo. I do think that baning student athletes from post season play is a stupid sanction. They do not deserve to serve punishment for their coaches poor decisions. I could see the coach being baned from coaching his team in post season play or the player who was involved in the sanction (if still in college) getting baned. You can’t be disappointed that UConn played in the final game. Kemba Walker was arguably the best player in post season play and their team deserved to be there, just as Butler did. Thats the beauty of march madness.

  4. Ken
    Ken says:

    Please stop with the one sentence paragraphs.

    It doesn’t make the article any stronger.


  5. angel
    angel says:

    You airballed for not mentioning Calipari’s excesses, far more than UCONN’s alleged violations. If Kentucky had won, would you still write the same biased stuff that you wrote here? I think you eat should crow for impartial journalism.

  6. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    Hey you know the reason that you had to forfeit wins and get a postseason ban it was due to the fact that OJ Mayo dressed and played in games for USC while Nate Miles never took the court for UCONN cause he was expelled from school before the season started. Look at the precedent if an ineligble player suits up for your team your team forfeits the games that he played in. So really there was no precedent to ban uconn since miles never played in a game.


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