Calhoun Not Backing Down

Kevin Johnstone

Much of the talk Wednesday morning is about two things: the punishment by the NCAA of the UConn men's basketball team, and coach Jim Calhoun's response. There's not much disputing the former: UConn violated myriad rules in recruiting Nate Miles. The program has been placed on probation and Calhoun will be suspended for the first three Big East games of the 2011-2012 season.

Shortly after the NCAA announced the penalties, Calhoun issued a statement: "I am very disappointed with the NCAA's decision in this case. My lawyer and i are evaluating my options and will make a decision which way to proceed."

That response, and Calhoun's defiance, led Hartford Courant's Jeff Jacobs to write that the coach should just let it go.

"Tuesday the NCAA refuted Calhoun and … [u]ntil he comes out and accepts responsibility as captain of a ship that veered off course — he doesn’t have to agree with every detail of the findings or take every inch of blame — why should he get away with being more concerned about his legacy than about the school that has made him a multi-millionaire?"

But that's not Calhoun's M.O. ESPN's Dana O'Neil notes that Calhoun is a "prideful man, who despite singular success still views himself as a scrappy kid from Boston." Which is reinforced by comments he made in October. “I’m a natural underdog,’’ Calhoun said at the time. “And if I’m not an underdog, I’ll make myself the underdog, somehow or other."'s Gary Parrish thought Calhoun got off light. "A postseason ban? That hurts. A television ban? That stings. But all Calhoun really got for cheating was a three-game suspension -- plus the contract extension he signed last May."

Fair enough. And there seems to be much hand-wringing in and around Storrs that the sanctions will somehow sully Calhoun's legacy. Let's be honest: it's a slap on the wrist and not much else. There are any number of reasons for why the punishment wasn't more severe.  My guess:'s always money.  But here's the deal: the NCAA's ruling against UConn will be forgotten in short order, particularly if the team finishes strong in the regular season and makes some noise in the tournament. We'll revisit this issue again next fall, for three Big East games, and that will be that. I'm not condoning what happened, just being frank about the reality of it all.

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