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NCAA denies UConn's waiver request

By Gavin Keefe

Publication: The Day

Published February 11. 2012 4:00AM

UConn will be banned from participating in the 2013 NCAA tournament unless it wins an appeal of the NCAA's decision on Friday to deny the school's waiver request.

UConn filed the request after learning last fall it would not qualify because of a sub-standard Academic Progress Rate. The university proposed self-imposed penalties that included reducing the regular season schedule by four games, forfeiting postseason revenue from the Big East and off-campus recruiting restrictions for coach Jim Calhoun.

The Huskies will not be permitted to compete in any postseason tournament beyond the Big East tournament. Their participation in the conference tournament will be determined by the Big East, according to UConn spokesman Mike Enright.

UConn will file an appeal with the NCAA Division I Committee on Academic Performance Subcommittee on Appeals. There is no timetable for a ruling.

School president Susan Herbst expressed disappointed about the NCAA's decision. UConn also detailed an Academic Improvement Plan in their waiver request.

"We are deeply disappointed that our request for a waiver was denied, but we look forward to continuing in the process," Herbst said in a released statement. "We continue to believe that we have made a very compelling case in our waiver to the NCAA and we are pleased with the recent outstanding academic success of our men's basketball student-athletes.

"I want to be clear that during my entire career as a scholar and a teacher, I have been in full support of high academic standards in collegiate athletics. However, in this case, there are good students who could be penalized for the problematic behavior of students who have not been enrolled for years.

"Educators and parents need to do what is right for their students, and not allow them to be caught in the dynamics of public relations."

The NCAA's decision will have a significant impact on the basketball program, especially in recruiting. The coaching staff may have trouble convincing high-level recruits to come to UConn without the possibility of playing in postseason next year.

The coaching staff already is dealing with questions about the status of Calhoun, who will miss his third straight game today at Syracuse with a painful lower back condition. Calhoun has given no indication when or if he'll return this season, but recently insisted his condition won't force him to retire. Associate head coach George Blaney told reporters in Syracuse Friday that Calhoun is improving and doctors are nearing a decision on a treatment plan.

Recruits also want to know when Calhoun does retire, who would be the next coach? There is a growing support to hire assistant coach Kevin Ollie, a former Husky who is well-respected and well-liked in the school and college basketball community.

The postseason ban also will likely be a factor in the decision whether freshman Andre Drummond and sophomore Jeremy Lamb return next season.

They're both projected to be first round picks - Drummond a lottery selection - despite their recent struggles.

Blaney reportedly offered no reaction to the NCAA's ruling on Friday.

UConn is still clinging to the slim chance that the NCAA will decide to change the reporting time period for the APR, using scores from the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years instead of 2009-10 and 2010-11.

If the NCAA alters the two-year period, UConn would be eligible for postseason in 2013.

The NCAA's Committee on Academic Performance will discuss that issue during a meeting on Feb. 20.

g.keefe@theday.com

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