Glass Houses

When UMass had to vacate its NCAA tournament victories in its Final Four year, 1996, this alum heard about it.  From Lew Perkins and Jim Calhoun.

The former UConn athletic director and the basketball coach took just a wee bit of satisfaction in letting me know that something was unholy up I-91.  And Perkins insisted that would never happen at UConn.

Now, the two men who made UConn Basketball a brand name face serious allegations of improprieties themselves.   Perkins, now the athletic director at Kansas, is embroiled in a ticket scandal.  Calhoun presides over a staff accused of recruiting violations.

Both are good men who have been very good at what they do for a very long time.  But even good men (and women) can’t take their eyes off the prize for even a second at the highest level of college sports.  The competition to recruit 16 and 17 year olds is too great.  The pressure to win is immense. 

They preside over multi-million dollar businesses.  That’s what major conference Division One college sports has become. 

Big business.


About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
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5 Responses to Glass Houses

  1. As much as I like Jim Calhoun, and UCONN’s Mens (and Ladies) Basketball. I was just wondering when Coach Calhoun went out during the Basketball season and nobody was told why, other than his Dr. said he had to be out if this is the reason?

  2. James says:

    Gerry – Your comment that college sports has become big business, generating multi-millions of dollars in revenues for their institutions is all too true. Given this situation, and given the incentive bonuses in most coaching contracts, it should come as no surprise that athletic departments and coaching staffs will push the limits on what is permissible.
    The pressure to win is never-ending in an environment where success only raises the expectations of the administration, alums and the fans. As a result we see the cheating headlines year-after-year.
    It is sad, but true, that the major colleges have become nothing more than farm teams for the pros when it comes to basketball, football and baseball. And the phrase ‘student athlete’ is a sad joke (except for women’s sports – and one can only wonder how long that will last).
    We may never know whether or not Jim Calhoun knew what his coaching staff was doing, or merely turned a blind eye to their activities. But now what had been an unblemished program has been tarnished by the NCAA allegations. And the Coach’s dismal attempts to distance himself from what took place sends the wrong message to the student population. Like the captain of the ship, the head coach is in-charge and must accept the consequences of the actions of their program.
    However, the current situation at UConn is just another example of the hypocrisy in Div 1 athletics. The whole system is inherently wrong and needs to be corrected. The major sports schools are collectively making billions each year off the efforts of young men and offering them a ‘college education’ in return. This is a joke! As the graduation rates show, the star players are only attending college until the pros notice them and offer the big contract.
    The NCAA should come clean and offer these hired guns a salary for playing college sports. It would bring some fairness into the equation. Who knows, maybe a few of these kids might actually stick around and get an education, if the financial pressure to provide for their families was lessened.
    Moreover, the penalties for rules violations should also fall upon the athletic directors and the coaching staffs, in addition to the schools. Too many college coaches simply walk away from the institution where they committed the violations and set up shop down the road, leaving their former school holding the bag. A major rule violation should result in a coaching suspension for the coaches involved. A second major rules violation should result in a life-time ban from Div 1 sports.
    Similar penalties should apply to the athletic directors. As things stand now, most athletic directors manage their star coaches in name only. At the end of the day, they know where the real power lies. Until the athletic directors have some skin in the game, don’t expect to see any real policing taking place in these athletic departments.
    But in the end as long as the public continues to buy into the ‘win at all costs’ mentality, these kinds of violations will continue to occur.

  3. Excellent points, James. The Athletic Director position at schools like UConn is a farce. Nobody directs Jim Calhoun. He reports to nobody. Maybe the position’s name should be changed to Athletic Director*

    * For all sports except basketball and football

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