March 26, 2009
First off, Coach, it wasn't a blog. The investigative piece was the result of six months of industry by Yahoo! Sports, one of the world's most visited websites. Calling it a blog, whether by intention or ignorance, sounded dismissive and the last thing you and UConn need today is to come off dismissive.
Second, Adrian Wojnarowski is one of the most precise sports reporters, most talented sports writers Connecticut has produced. If the piece written by Wojnarowski and Dan Wetzel charging UConn with NCAA violations during the recruitment of Nate Miles had contained a number of glaring inaccuracies, Jim Calhoun and UConn would have stood on the roof of University of Phoenix Stadium screaming out their lungs.
Instead there was silence.
Well, not total silence. There was an embarrassing statement released by UConn that:
*The school's outside counsel worked with the NCAA to determine Miles was eligible for his freshman year.
*The story included no current student athletes or any who ever competed for the school. During his press conference, a discombobulated Calhoun essentially repeated the release, stressing the fact Miles played in no games.
Point 1, of course, has nothing to do with anything, unless UConn is somehow trying to pull the NCAA down with it. And on No. 2, the only reason Miles didn't play for UConn this season was because he was expelled for an alleged abuse of a woman and subsequently violating a restraining order in 16 minutes. If that means UConn doesn't have to forfeit any games Miles played in, good grief, yahoo Husky fans should be sending roses today to the Manchester woman. And wouldn't you know it? By mid-evening, the story did include a scholarship athlete.
Wednesday was a bad day, a very bad day for the state university. And it got worse. By early evening, ESPN was reporting Josh Nochimson served as the conduit for UConn freshman Ater Majok, not yet cleared to compete but practicing, to play in a high school all-star game in Louisville last spring. By the end of the night, there was Miles' uncle, Thomas Pettigrew, blaming "society" in an ESPN piece.
Society? No, try greed, arrogance and stupidity.
There are two things you can take to the bank today:
*After receiving lodging, transportation, restaurant meals and representation from Nochimson, a former UConn team manager turned agent, Nate Miles is going pro. You may scoff, but since his UConn expulsion and enrollment at Southern Idaho, the UConn coaching staff had continued to recruit Miles, Southern Idaho coach Steve Gosar told Yahoo!. I firmly believe Calhoun wanted to bring Miles back next year. Not happening now.
*You can delete Tom Moore's name off the list to one day replace Calhoun. He's way, way too hot to touch.
In the interest of full disclosure, I heard 10 days ago that Yahoo! was working on an investigative piece involving Miles, Nochimson and UConn. I was led to believe the emphasis was more on the agent-high school player payoff than program involvement. Wow. That certainly wasn't the case. UConn is waist deep in this.
Yes, it's disturbing that there were reported to be 1,565 phone and text messages between five UConn coaches and Nochimson, and that UConn might have far exceeded the limits of contact allowed with Miles and those close to him. Yet the NCAA also has a way of curiously setting standards and then dancing around their implementation.
And, yes, it's disturbing that as an alum with former ties to the program, Nochimson, even as an agent, is defined by the NCAA as a representative of UConn athletic interests. He's not supposed to be involved in the recruiting process.
But what really eats at me is the agent-as-college recruiter part of this story. Payoffs, guiding high school players to certain colleges, etc., speak to the ugliest underbelly of college sports. And to have Nochimson, a member of the extended UConn basketball family, in so tight, in such constant contact, with those at Gampel Pavilion is downright frightening. Moore has known Nochimson forever. Beau Archibald is tight with him. He was Rip Hamilton's main man. As this story progresses, you've got to figure they'll explain the hundreds of calls as friendly interaction. But, c'mon, you don't call your wife as much as these guys reached out to Nochimson.
"I'm not going to speak about any individual," Calhoun said when asked about his relationship with Nochimson. "He was with our program for six years, got his master's degree. While he was in our program, he was a good kid, worked hard.
"I have a very close relationship with Rip, going to Rip's wedding in June as a matter of fact."
Nochimson was known as quite the facilitator. Khalid El-Amin and his wife lived with him at UConn. Think about the absurdity of that arrangement for a moment. He got close to Hamilton, eventually becoming his personal assistant and business manager. He later became an agent for Luol Deng, former UConn player Ajou Deng's brother. Hamilton has accused Nochimson of ripping him off of more than $1 million. Nochimson filed papers to decertify himself as an agent, but there might not be enough paper in the world to apologize to folks in Connecticut after this story is done.
There's a long list of transgressions by UConn players after arriving in Storrs. One could argue that for years too many of the wrong guys were brought in. We didn't know they also appear to have been doing it in the wrong ways.
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