Story/Photo By Ken Krayeske • 8:00 PM EST
Fans, elected officials, academics, everyone looks aside while Coach Calhoun marches with us to madness. It is time to prioritize academics over athletics. Maybe NCAA sanctions will help...
More reporters cover the University of Connecticut men's and women's basketball teams than cover the Connecticut General Assembly.
Dozens of reporters and camerapeople document the niggling details of the 35 or so college basketball players who generate $20 million annually, and nary a handful of journalists cover the 181 or so representatives and senators who appropriate $17 billion annually.
And yet, the two biggest stories about UConn basketball this year came from journalists who do not cover the Huskies regularly.
As the Huskies verge on a third national title, and Coach Jim Calhoun lays the legal groundwork to protect his title, don't expect the groupthinkers in the media horde to question the way the UConn athletic department dealt with the onset of these alleged violations of NCAA recruiting regulations.
The timeline, compiled from various sources, looks like this:
Early October 2008 - Yahoo! Sports reporters Adrian Wojnarowski and Dan Wetzel submit Freedom of Information Act requests to UConn, looking for state-owned cell phone records of various men’s basketball coaches.
December 2008 - The UConn athletic department retained the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King, a Kansas outfit known for work on NCAA issues.
January 2009 - 80 percent of the Yahoo! Sports story was done (according to reporting by Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs), but UConn stalled and delayed turning over the phone records central to the Freedom of Information Act requests.
March 2009 – Yahoo! Sports breaks the story about Calhoun and company allegedly committing NCAA recruiting violations. Shortly after this story breaks, UConn reports the violations to the NCAA.
Exactly when UConn president Michael Hogan learned of this remains a mystery.
But the men who run the UConn athletic department know. They earn hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to know. Sneaky they may be, but stupid, they ain't. They looked at the FOI requests, understood the implications of the phone records being sought, and battened down the hatches.
From these facts, we can infer that sometime in December, somewhere inside an office in Gampel Pavilion, Calhoun, UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway and the associate athletic director Tim Tolokan listened to advice of their counsel.
Then they made a few decisions. First, winning basketball remained the number one priority. If they could win games, then this strengthened their position when the news hit the streets. No one backs a loser.
This cold, Machiavellian power calculus factored in Calhoun's raw political muscle, the years of winning and goodwill that he has built up, and they figured they could withstand whatever full court press happened, as it were, whenever the story broke.