Does Latest NCAA Investigation Spell End for Kevin Ollie at UConn

Photo via Hartford Courant

It’s been a rough season for Kevin Ollie and the Connecticut basketball team on the court this year. It looks like things will be getting worse off the court as well. ESPN’s Jeff Borzello reported this morning that the NCAA will be investigating the Connecticut men’s basketball team. The investigation will focus on the recruiting actions of head coach Kevin Ollie. The school has confirmed that they have been notified by the NCAA. The Huskies are coming off their first losing season since 1986-87, Jim Calhoun’s first year on the sidelines. Ollie has an overall record of 123-70 as the head coach of UConn, and of course, one national championship. However, he has never had better than a third place finish in an American Conference that is just gaining respect this year thanks to the addition of Wichita State.

This year, Connecticut sits at 11-9 and 4-3 in the AAC. They have blowout losses to Michigan State (20), Arkansas (35), Auburn (25), Memphis (24), and Villanova (20). Four of these five teams are NCAA tournament teams, but a team with the prestige of UConn shouldn’t be getting walked over like this. Injuries also haven’t helped their case; Losing Alterique Gilbert was a big blow. That said, the loss would not be as massive is Ollie was able to retain some of the talent he had recruited.

“The NCAA has notified UConn of an inquiry into its men’s basketball program. We are working closely with the NCAA’s enforcement division as they conduct this inquiry. “ – University of Connecticut official statement (via ZagsBlog)

This past off-season, UConn saw four players, who would have factored into their rotation this year, transfer. Steven Enoch left for Louisville, Juwan Durham transferred to Notre Dame, and Vance Jackson, a starter last year, left for New Mexico after his freshman year. Then there was prized recruit Makai Ashton—Langford, who backed out of his letter of intent and chose Providence over the Huskies. These departures left UConn paper-thin, and it’s showing on various occasions.

Ollie does have some nice pieces on his team. Jalen Adams is very talented, and I don’t think it’s just a product of a good player on a bad team. Terry Larrier has been a nice second scoring option as well. But it’s not nearly enough to compete in their sub par conference, let alone on a national stage. If UConn wants to get back to the national recognition they once had, change may be necessary.

Mediocre seasons, embarrassing losses and players transferring out is enough to make a coach’s seat warm. Add in an NCAA investigation and you may have a full-blown seat on fire. The AAC needs UConn to be UConn again. A conference with Wichita State, Cincinnati and a good UConn team, gives them a strong leg to stand on when talking about strength of conferences. For that to happen, it may require a change at the helm for Connecticut. We will see how the rest of the season turns out, and what comes from this NCAA investigation, but it might be time for change in Storrs.

NCAA Embarrasses Themselves Again: Suspends UH Guard Rob Gray

Opening night in college basketball an exciting night for everyone. Fans, coaches and especially players relish in the feeling of their team taking the court for real, for the first time. After all, you only get one opening night a year, unless you are Houston guard Rob Gray.

Gray, who was the leading scorer in the AAC last season, did not get the same opening night experience his teammates did on Friday. He was suspended one game by the NCAA for playing in a church league basketball game this summer. According to NCAA, Gray’s participation in this game violated their rules. This suspension just further proves the NCAA seems to have no grasp on handling situations of this nature. Don’t worry though, Jay Bilas is making sure everyone knows how dysfunctional they are.

So far this year we have seen a player forced to sit out the year for enrolling in classes early. We have seen a program get away unharmed for players taking fake classes. And now, we have a player suspended for (gasp) playing basketball. Does any of that make sense?

The answer it no, it does not make sense. You can make a case about Braxton Beverly deserving to sit this season after enrolling at one school and transferring to another to try and play. You’d be wrong, but you can make a solid point. You can say UNC is a big money maker so of course they just got a slap on the wrist for making up classes. But how can you justify suspending a player for playing in a rec basketball game?

At this point players should just sit at home all off-season. Don’t practice, don’t study. Heck, don’t eat because you never know where that food came from and who served it to you. The “by the book” mentality that Mark Emmert and the NCAA is adhering to is starting to become a joke, and it’s affecting hard working players.