University of Connecticut’s Men’s Basketball Team Under NCAA Investigation

The University of Connecticut is the target of an NCAA investigation into its men’s basketball program.

University President Susan Herbst said in a statement Friday the school will cooperate in a “thorough and transparent manner reflective of the model athletic and academic institution we continually strive to be.”

The university didn’t specify the allegations and said it would have no further comment, but would “address and respond appropriately as the inquiry moves forward.”

Hearst Connecticut Media, which first reported the investigation, cited unidentified sources saying the inquiry was related to recruiting.

The school said it had begun an NCAA mandated internal review of the men’s basketball program this fall amid an FBI investigation into alleged corruption in college basketball. The focus of the federal probe has been on arrangements made between assistant coaches, shoe companies and financial advisers.

As part of that review, UConn retained a law firm — Lightfoot, Franklin and White — that specializes in athletics compliance. It says that firm also will assist in responding to this NCAA inquiry. The school didn’t say whether the NCAA investigation was related to issues investigated by the FBI.

This is not the first time UConn has been under NCAA scrutiny.

Then-coach Jim Calhoun was forced to sit out three games during the 2011-12 basketball season and the school was put on three years of probation after the NCAA found violations dating to 2008. Those included improper phone calls, text messages and inducements provided by an agent who was a former team manager.

The school didn’t receive a postseason ban, but then failed to meet NCAA academic qualifications for the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Huskies won their fourth NCAA championship the next season.

Coach Kevin Ollie is now in his sixth season as coach and in the second year of a five-year $17.9-million contract that can be voided for “just cause,” including NCAA violations.

Neither Ollie nor anyone else in the program mentioned the investigation following UConn’s 63-52 win over SMU on Thursday night. The Huskies are 11-9 this season after going 16-17 a year ago, the team’s first losing season in 30 years.

SOURCE: The Associated Press, Pat Eaton-Robb