Andre Drummond is coming to Storrs. Pretty sure nobody expected to hear those words arranged in that order this year, but now that it's a reality, the Huskies have gone from one of a handful of teams vying for a Big East title to the runaway favorites. Turns out, there was more to adding Drummond to the program than an announcement on Twitter and signing a few forms.
UConn is just a few months removed from NCAA sanctions stemming from their poor Academic Progress Rates. The program lost three scholarships for the upcoming season, and even though Drummond was Jim Calhoun's most coveted recruit, scholarships didn't magically materialize when he became available.
ESPN.com's Andy Katz was the first to report Saturday that Calhoun, interim athletic director Paul Pendergast, university president Susan Herbst and a member of the compliance department met Friday "to ensure that it was possible to add another scholarship player -- a big one -- even though the program is officially out of scholarships."
Okay, so maybe the scholarship didn't magically materialize, but there are methods for making one suddenly available should the right situation come along. We're pretty sure Drummond qualifies as such.
"Once it was determined that one player on the current roster -- a source told ESPN.com it is redshirt freshman Michael Bradley -- could possibly qualify for financial aid days before the fall semester begins this week, a call was made to Andre Drummond's camp that a possible scholarship was available," Katz continued.
Katz also contends that the decision by former AD Jeff Hathaway to step down last week isn't a coincidence in the Huskies landing Drummond.
"As for the back story, the change at the top of the UConn athletic department shouldn't be dismissed," Katz wrote Saturday. "It was no secret that Calhoun and former athletic director Jeff Hathaway weren’t on the best of terms. Last week, Hathaway took a settlement after being forced to retire. That opened the door for some cooperation within a group that is clearly on the same page at the top of the UConn administration. Herbst, her hand-picked interim in Pendergrast, and Calhoun, whom she has openly supported since her arrival and has been visible with at notable events of late, from the White House visit to his multiple charity events."
Usually, burning bridges comes back to haunt you. For Calhoun, whose relationship with Hathaway can kindly be described as rocky, the opposite seems to be true. Who knows what role Calhoun played (if any) in Hathaway's ouster, but the bottom line is days after he was gone the program landed its prized recruit. Also helping Calhoun's cause: he has three national championships, the latest coming just over four months ago.
Katz adds that "The Huskies can’t afford any more transfers and certainly are in no position to run a player off for Drummond." Before reminding us that despite UConn's recent run of good luck, Calhoun will still be suspended for three games to start the Big East schedule because of the Nate Mile recruiting fiasco. Which, in a sense, makes the Drummond news all the more ironic.