Roundtable: Thoughts on the NCAA investigation into UConn

Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie, center, walks up court during an NCAA college basketball game against SMU, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, in Storrs, Conn. The University of Connecticut confirms it is the target of an NCAA investigation into its men's basketball program. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

The NCAA opened up an investigation into UConn last week, and the Huskies stated they would remain fully compliant with any inquiries the NCAA make. However, the idea that UConn is being investigated puts a lot of question marks around the men’s basketball program and the future of basketball at the university. The DC Sports staff gives its thoughts on the NCAA investigation in this week’s edition of the Roundtable.

Matt Severino - Campus Correspondent

Just those 4 letters should be enough to give any UConn basketball fan PTSD. The NCAA has been anything but kind to the Huskies over the past decade from the sanctions, loss of scholarships, the postseason ban and ruling players ineligible. This investigation comes at a heated time when there are plenty of people who want Ollie to get the boot. My prediction is that the athletic department opened this can of worms on themselves in order to try and get Ollie fired without having to pay him the millions of dollars that they still owe him. Not only would they be spared from the economic commitment they made, they would regain the support of fans who are clearly frustrated with the team’s performance.

Kevin Arnold - Campus Correspondent

UConn men’s basketball is at a very low point right now, if you couldn’t already tell by their on-court performances. Coming off of the first losing season in 30 years and most recently an embarrassing loss at Temple, UConn fans are looking for answers to their beloved program’s woes. Instead, the NCAA’s investigation into recruiting violations only raises more questions. It leaves fans and students wondering what this means for coach Kevin Ollie’s future (even though most of us want him gone), the future of any current players and the program as a whole. This investigation comes at an interesting time as the NCAA is also investigating the sexual abuse scandal at Michigan State University, but that is besides the point. I’m interested to see how this plays out but as a UConn fan I’m not getting my hopes up given the school’s track record with NCAA rulings, which most recently denied freshman transfer Sidney Wilson eligibility for the rest of the current season.

Luke Swanson - Staff Writer

A lot of the details coming out about this NCAA investigation have been standard fare. The NCAA has been conducting interviews about possible violations in recruiting, the school and coaches have said they’ll comply, and that they run a program with an “atmosphere of compliance”. It has happened to nearly every major school over the years, and UConn itself has survived tournament bans and scholarship limits before, most recently during the 2011-12 season. The two short-term effects of the investigation before the results come out are limited to recruiting being negatively affected and making it harder for UConn to return to the Big East in the near future, as many are advocating.

Two details of the investigation stand out to me, however. One is that the investigation was borne out of an internal review that UConn did on itself last year, and the NCAA has already done over 100 hours of interviews. That implies that whatever was uncovered during the inquiry was pretty darn serious.

The second red flag in all of this is the fact that the investigation is on the university’s recruiting practices in general. That covers a lot more ground than just one or two players getting free t-shirts or sleeping on coach’s couches, and implies that the NCAA thinks that UConn has a systemic recruiting problem, which would open a whole new can of worms that would be very bad for the university.