The NCAA has cited UConn for a secondary violation of rules after reviewing Geno Auriemma's congratulatory phone call to Little League star Mo'ne Davis last month.
Secondary violations do not typically result in NCAA penalties. Instead, corrective action is usually taken that includes rules education. A letter of admonishment is usually included and in some cases contact with the specific recruit is banned for a set period of time.
UConn athletic director Warde Manuel was not pleased.
"Over the last 24 hours, the University of Connecticut, the American Athletic Conference and the NCAA have been working together to determine whether a violation occurred when head women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma spoke with Mo'ne Davis over the phone during the 2014 Little League World Series," Manuel said in a statement. "The NCAA has determined a secondary rules violation of bylaw 188.8.131.52 did occur and while UConn accepts this decision, we do not agree with it.
"Prior to attempting to reach Davis, Coach Auriemma checked with the UConn compliance department and was advised such a call would be permissible since Davis is not considered a prospective student-athlete by the NCAA and the call was to be congratulatory rather than recruiting in nature.
"While UConn will continue to adhere to the NCAA and conference rules, I believe that upon request from a friend to Geno, a proud Philadelphian, to call a young lady representing the City of Brotherly Love who had accomplished historic feats in the Little League World Series, should not constitute a violation especially due to the fact that NCAA rules do not classify Mo'ne as a prospective student-athlete.
"The nature of Coach Auriemma's two-minute conversation with Mo'ne had nothing to do with recruiting and instead had everything to do with congratulating and encouraging Mo'ne to continued success.
"I consider this matter closed and we will have no further comment."
Multiple sources told The Courant Thursday that neither the Atlantic Coast Conference nor the American Athletic Conference were responsible for the complaint made against Auriemma.
On Wednesday, Auriemma said a conference that he would not identify, acting on behalf of a member school, filed a complaint against him the alleging that his congratulatory call to Davis was a recruiting violation.
On Thursday, Barbara Jacobs, the AAC's newly appointed associate commissioner of women's basketball, said the league was obligated to investigate the complaint and was is in the process of doing so, with UConn and the NCAA compliance offices.
Several years ago UConn self-reported a secondary violation of NCAA rules involving the recruiting of Maya Moore. The complaint, filed by the SEC on behalf of Tennessee, occurred in 2005 when the women's basketball office arranged for Moore, then a high school student and top national recruit, to tour ESPN.
But the circumstances here are quite different.
According to an athletic department source, the NCAA viewed Davis, despite her age, as someone more significant than a typical "individual athlete" because of her notoriety and previously expressed interest in playing for UConn.
And even though it was not Auriemma's intent to speak directly to Davis, the fact that he initiated the call simply to express support and congratulations obviously did not sit well with NCAA compliance.
The NCAA defines a secondary violation as one that is inadvertent in nature or doesn't represent a significant competitive advantage.
Davis, 13, made history by pitching a shutout and collecting an RBI to lead the Philadelphia-based Taney Dragons to the semifinals of the United States Little League championship in Williamsport, Pa.
Before her team's semifinal game against Nevada, which Davis started, Auriemma placed a call to the Little League's administrative office, on behalf of a request from the Philadelphia 76ers, to say hello.
What made Davis stand out in Connecticut more than her accomplishments on the field was the UConn sweatshirt she wore everywhere she went along with her public admission that she dreamed of playing point guard for Auriemma and the Huskies.
Since the end of the tournament, Davis has worn the UConn sweatshirt during visits to the WNBA semifinals in Minnesota, where her idol, Moore was among those who autographed it for her. Earlier this week she was also wearing it in Los Angeles when she met Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, another of her favorite athletes, before throwing a first-pitch strike before the game at Dodger Stadium.
The conversation between Auriemma and Davis was witnessed by those in the Little League's administrative office, where Davis was standing when the call came in. It was reported that nothing more than small talk took place between Davis and the Hall of Fame coach, who encouraged her to get a few hits.