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Question of the Day: Was the penalty against Connecticut basketball too tough, too lenient or just right? [Updated]

February 23, 2011 |  9:19 am

Question_450 Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the penalty for Connecticut men's basketball Coach Jim Calhoun, who was suspended three games for recruiting violations. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel

As hard as it is for Connecticut basketball fans to hear, suspending men’s basketball Coach Jim Calhoun was the right decision. The Hall of Fame coach was found guilty of the dreaded failing to create an atmosphere of compliance within the Huskies’ program. The days of coaches using "ignorance is bliss" as an excuse are over. Coaches need to know what is going on in their programs.

The NCAA, which has had to deal with high-profile violations at Michigan, Tennessee, Auburn and North Carolina this past year, is starting to crack down on programs. Is it wrong to just single out Calhoun for something that probably happens at schools across the country? No. The NCAA is using the 68-year-old as an example. Just like the SEC did when suspending Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl for eight conference games this season for violating NCAA rules and misleading investigators.

The punishment is meant to serve notice to other programs: This won’t be tolerated.

Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune

The rap sheet on Connecticut was long and condemning. And for it, the NCAA gave Connecticut a light rap on the wrist.

What it mostly amounted to was a three-game Big East suspension next season for Coach Jim Calhoun -– more a sting to his reputation than a punishment for his misdeeds. The NCAA cracks down much harder on players; just consider the case of Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen, who was suspended three games almost immediately for accepting free clothing.

How’s this fair?

There is a message in this, though. The NCAA, it seems, is not overlooking head coaches’ responsibility for the program and allowing assistants alone to bear the punishments any longer.

[Updated at 11:01 a.m.:

Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times

I'm done guessing what the NCAA might do next. Its edicts of "failure to comply" can't outdo my "failure to comprehend." These rulings have the consistency of tapioca pudding.

Everyone has pretty much been scratching their heads since the NCAA allowed Cam Newton to win the Heisman Trophy and BCS title despite pretty obvious evidence his dad shopped him everywhere except EBay, and then allowed Ohio State players to defer their tattoo punishment until after the Sugar Bowl. Yet the NCAA ink-blotted USC players from postseason play who had nothing to do with the sins of Reggie Bush?

And now we have Connecticut basketball Coach Jim Calhoun receiving a three-game suspension for NEXT season, but feel free to win the NCAA title THIS season. I'm starting to think the chalkboard the Infractions committee uses to go over cases is a dartboard.

Here's the thing about Calhoun, though, no matter what you think of the rendering, which I think was probably a safe, fairway metal off the tee. The damage to Calhoun's legacy outweighs the actual NCAA nuts and bolts. Calhoun is a Hall-of-Fame pillar in his community, but less of one today than he was last Friday.

Calhoun, more so than Bruce Pearl or Lane Kiffin, had a reputation worth protecting. A three-game sentence can easily be overcome, but maybe not the reasons why he will be serving it.]

[Updated at 11:29 a.m.:

Mike Anthony, Hartford Courant

I'd say just right. The Jim Calhoun suspension and various recruiting sanctions that will affect the program for the next few years is enough to sting and frustrate the involved parties, as a penalty should.   

But it remains a manageable set of circumstances. We must remember two words: competitive advantage. UConn never gained one. Nate Miles never played a game. If he had, we'd be talking about a forfeited Final Four, further embarrassment and more severe penalties.

UConn is left to ask itself if all the effort that went into landing Miles was worth it, and the answer is no. But the Huskies are also in a place where they can pick up the pieces and move on.

The action by the NCAA was severe enough to make other schools realize that there will be a price to pay for transgressions, particularly those involving agents or lying during an investigation.

The appropriate message has been sent because the appropriate action was taken. UConn didn't get off easy. But it wasn't able to tap-dance around the most severe charges as it had hoped to.]

Photo: Jim Calhoun. Credit: David Butler II / US Presswire

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