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Thursday, March 26, 2009
UConn Accused of Recruiting Violations for Nate Miles
Paul Doyle of the Hartford Courant interviewed me for a story concerning former UConn recruit Nate Miles and possible NCAA violations committed by the university, especially by former student-manager0turned agent Josh Nichomson (who himself may soon be sued for defrauding clients, including Richard Hamilton of the Pistons). Miles would never play UConn, as he was expelled due to Miles violating a restraing order.
Below is an excerpt of Doyle's story.
* * *The UConn men's basketball team is playing in a Sweet 16 game tonight in the NCAA Tournament, but on Wednesday things took on a decidedly sour tone off the court.
Coach Jim Calhoun was answering questions about a Yahoo! Sports report that said his program broke NCAA rules in recruiting Nate Miles. The story, posted early Wednesday, reported that former UConn team manager Josh Nochimson represented Miles as an agent and that former UConn assistant coach Tom Moore was aware of the relationship.
The story also cited phone records attained through the Freedom of Information Act that showed that five UConn coaches called Nochimson and sent him text messages at least 1,565 times during a nearly two-year period before and after Miles' recruitment in 2006 and early 2007. Calhoun had 16 of those communications, Yahoo! reported.
Miles, a 6-foot-7 guard from Toledo, Ohio, was expelled by UConn on Oct. 2 amid allegations that he had abused a female student. A restraining order was issued on Sept. 22, and Miles was arrested for calling the woman 16 minutes later. He never played a game for UConn and has since enrolled at Southern Idaho, a junior college.
The university would not say whether it has started an internal investigation, but it did say in a statement that it "takes very seriously its responsibilities of NCAA membership and will do all that is expected to follow up on any information related to possible NCAA rules violations."
UConn also would not say if it was in contact with the NCAA or whether a system exists to monitor coaches' calls to recruits. That could be an issue with the NCAA, which says that a school must demonstrate "institutional control." The NCAA also says that it expects the head coach of a program to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
At a press conference in Glendale, Ariz., Calhoun refused to respond Wednesday to the specific allegations. "[UConn] tries to live under the responsibility of the NCAA rules," Calhoun said. "The student-athlete departed UConn. And the reason I mention this prior to any competition because there is no problem now with games or what happened during those particular games, nor should there be. At least I don't think so."
Stacey Osburn, a spokeswoman for the NCAA infractions committee, said that the NCAA would not address the allegations. "We can't comment on current, pending or potential investigations," Osburn said.
Joe Linta, a sports agent from Branford, assessed the situation this way: "If it's a phone call violation, I think it will only be a slap on the wrist. If there is an infiltration with an agent who was involved in the program and is doing illegal things, then it becomes very serious."
Vermont Law School Professor Michael McCann, who specializes in sports law and writes a column for SI.com, said that the NCAA could come down hard on UConn. The NCAA could impose recruiting restrictions or take away scholarships, but it was unlikely to force UConn to forfeit games because Miles did not play.
"I think it's potentially major, certainly if Calhoun was involved or had knowledge of what was going on," McCann said. "UConn could argue that what Nochimson did was so outside the boundaries of his work with UConn or his association with UConn that he really was not acting on behalf of UConn. But I think it's a hard argument to make because his actions, if they're true, benefited UConn. I think the real question is, how high up the chain did these transgressions go?"
* * *To read the rest of the story, click here. To read the Yahoo! story, click here. For a report on the NCAA contacting UConn about this, check out Seth Davis' piece on SI.com.