The NCAA has accused the storied men's basketball program at the University of Connecticut of eight major rules violations.
The school released the notice of allegation letter Friday following a 15-month investigation into the recruiting of former player Nate Miles. The eight alleged violations include improper phone calls and text messages to recruits, giving recruits improper benefits and improperly distributing free tickets to high school coaches and others. Coach Jim Calhoun was cited for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
"It's not exactly, certainly anywhere near the high point of my career, as a matter of fact it's certainly one of the lowest points at any time that you are accused of doing something," said Calhoun, who has led the Huskies since 1986 and twice guided them to national championships. "It's a very serious matter."
UConn is to appear before the governing body on Oct. 15 to respond. Attorney Rick Evrard, an outside counsel who advises UConn on NCAA-related matters, said the school likely will spend the next three months reviewing the allegations. He said if the school confirms them, it is obligated to impose its own sanctions. Penalties could vary widely, depending on what UConn finds in its review.
Among the allegations, is that assistants Beau Archibald and Patrick Sellers provided false and misleading information to NCAA investigators. Sellers and Archibald, who served as director of basketball have both resigned. Jeff Hathaway, the school's athletic director says Archibald resigned last Thursday, and Sellers quit on Sunday.
Both released statements Friday saying they needed to devote their full attention to the allegations against them.
"Coaching is my passion and something I have spent many years of enjoyment doing," Sellers said. "I want the record to reflect this and for the people to see the respect and integrity that I will show toward the process in the months ahead."
The 68-year-old Calhoun recently signed a five-year, $13 million contract, though UConn was 18-16 last season and Calhoun took a medical leave of absence in January, missing seven games with an undisclosed medial condition.
UConn as an institution was cited for not adequately monitoring "the conduct and administration of the men's basketball staff in the areas of: telephone records, representatives of the institution's athletics interests; and, complimentary admissions or discretionary tickets."
Calhoun and Hathaway declined to comment on the allegations, citing the ongoing investigation, but Calhoun said he won't be defeated by the charges.
"I'm going to be educated by certain matters, if in fact we did make mistakes, which I think I said 15 months ago," Calhoun said. "We'll finalize some of that over the next 90 days and we will go forward."
The NCAA and the school have been investigating the program since shortly after a report by Yahoo! Sports in March 2009 that former team manager Josh Nochimson helped guide basketball recruit Nate Miles to Connecticut, 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 men's basketball staff knew or should have known about the benefits provided by Nochimson due to their knowledge of Nochimson's status as a professional basketball agent and his relationship and contact with (blacked out)....," the NCAA wrote to UConn. The alleged infractions occurred between June 2005 and February 2009.
Documents released by the school showed pages and pages of phone and text message correspondence between Nochimson and UConn coaches Calhoun, Tom Moore, who is now head coach at Quinnipiac, and Sellers.
Messages seeking comment were left at Quinnipiac for Moore.
Miles was expelled from UConn in October 2008 without ever playing a game for the Huskies after he was charged with violating a restraining order in a case involving a woman who claimed he assaulted her. He played during the 2008-09 season for the College of Southern Idaho, and was cut last November by the NBA Development League's Sioux Falls Skyforce.
The investigation of the men's basketball program has no impact on UConn's other sports programs, including its national champion women's basketball team.