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Published: 10/9/2010

UConn admits to violations in Toledoan's recruitment

ASSOCIATED PRESS

HARTFORD - The University of Connecticut has admitted its men's basketball program committed major NCAA recruiting violations and has imposed its own sanctions, including two years' probation and a loss of one scholarship for the next two seasons.

But the university says the evidence does not support the NCAA allegation that coach Jim Calhoun - who has won two national titles with the Huskies - failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance.

In a report released Friday, the school acknowledges its basketball staff made impermissible telephone calls and text messages as cited by the NCAA in a May report that followed a 15-month investigation. It also admits it improperly provided free game tickets to high school coaches.

A hearing is set for Friday before the NCAA infractions committee, which could accept UConn's decision or impose additional penalties.

"I am deeply disappointed the university is in this position," University of Connecticut President Philip E. Austin said in a statement. "It is clear mistakes have been made. This is a serious matter, and we have worked in full cooperation with the NCAA. We look forward to fully resolving these issues and restoring our men's basketball program to a level of unquestioned integrity."

The allegations stem from the recruitment of former player Nate Miles, who was expelled from UConn in October, 2008, without ever playing a game for the Huskies. The Toledo native was charged with violating a restraining order in a case involving a woman who claimed he assaulted her.

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 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 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.

The school's responses to the allegations, totaling more than 700 pages, were given to the NCAA on Sept. 7, but made public Friday after the school redacted items to comply with federal education privacy laws.

Calhoun said in his own response that he investigated whether there was an improper relationship between Nochimson and the recruit, and warned the player against getting involved with Nochimson.

"If a prospect and an agent are going to engage in conduct violative of NCAA legislation hundreds and thousands of miles away from campus, there is only so much a head coach can do to prevent the conduct," his attorney wrote.

The school sided with Calhoun saying it does not agree that he "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance," because he took steps to deter the recruit's relationship with Nochimson and did not know that Nochimson provided any benefits.

"The university believes that [Calhoun] has made it a priority to work hard and within the rules and that he has encouraged compliance with student-athletes, fellow coaches, university personnel and members of the community," the school wrote in its response.

The school said improper calls were made to fewer than 10 recruits and found that Calhoun made only two improper calls.

Neither Nochimson nor Miles cooperated in the NCAA and school investigations.



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