$13 MILLION FOR “FAILING TO PROMOTE AN ATMOSPHERE OF COMPLIANCE?”

The press conference, complete with sullen faces and “we’re sorry” looks on their faces, is over. The so-called experts have picked apart the possible NCAA sanction scenarios like Dick Vitale diagramming the work of a “P-T-P-er, baby!” [Prime Time Player]. But there are still many unanswered questions about alleged recruiting violations by the UConn men’s basketball program and its newly contracted coach Jim Calhoun.

The biggest question here is: How in the world could UConn bestow a $13 million contract upon Calhoun when school officials certainly knew about the coming allegations of running afoul of NCAA rules? The allegations include Calhoun’s “failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.” It appears to regular, non-UConn people that Calhoun was rewarded for running a program that doesn’t play by the rules but still wins (except last year).

Two Calhoun assistants fell on their swords and the school might be ordered to deprive a high school basketball player of a scholarship (not that they were likely to graduate anyway) but not only is Calhoun untouched, he gets a sparkling, new, $13 million contract to ensure he turns the air around the bench blue for years to come.

Then this morning we have even more evidence that Calhoun does what he wants at UConn with little or no supervision. The Hartford Courant reports that under Calhoun’s contract, UConn is permitted to audit Calhoun’s lucrative summer basketball camps and oversee who gets complimentary game tickets. It turns out the summer camps have never been audited so Calhoun does as he pleases there as well.

Where is the outrage? Is this situation okay with members of the state legislature who vote on funding for UConn? Or are there so many of them connected to the school in one way or another that they look the other way? Taxpayers who aren’t beholden to UConn for their degrees certainly get it: The men’s basketball program is an out of control, unsupervised, potentially rule-breaking monster that clearly operates without an atmosphere of compliance to any reasonable rules.

So what has the legislature and the governor done about the situation at UConn? Nothing. In this case, one of Gov. Rell’s “blue ribbon committees” she so often formed to address numerous problems in the state would be welcomed. Someone needs to create an atmosphere of compliance.