by Kyle Flynn
The University of Connecticut men’s basketball program is the newest target of an investigation by the NCAA.
The school confirmed that the NCAA had begun a mandated internal review of the men’s basketball program this fall amid an FBI investigation into alleged corruption in college basketball.
“The focus of the federal probe has been on arrangements made between assistant coaches, shoe companies and financial advisers,” ABC News reports.
UConn didn’t say whether the NCAA investigation was related to issues investigated by the FBI.
Hearst Connecticut Media was the first to report the investigation, cited unidentified sources saying the inquiry was related to recruiting.
The university could not specify the allegations and representatives say it would not be able to comment any further, but would “address and respond appropriately as the inquiry moves forward.”
The school will cooperate with a “thorough and transparent manner reflective of the model athletic and academic institution we continually strive to be,” University President Susan Herbst said.
Connecticut Post reports that UConn Athletic Director David Benedict couldn’t answer specifics about the NCAA inquiry into the UConn men’s basketball program.
“I wish I could tell you,” Benedict said. “There’s no one that would want to know more than us.”
The state of Division-I athletics at UConn has been on a decline ever since their departure from the original Big East conference.
While the Big East is still thriving with many new universities as members, UConn plays in the American Athletic Conference which is not exactly a destination for the top recruits in the country.
In order to stay in the Big East conference, schools would have had to downgrade their football programs from D-I to D-I AA. Schools in D1 AA would include Central Connecticut State University, which is not eligible to play for the national championship in football or play in any of the 40 bowl games.
Many other schools such as Syracuse and Louisville decided to part from the conference for the Atlantic Coastal Conference, which features some of the best competition in the nation.
Connecticut chose a different route, and while they maintain Division-I status in football, they play in a much weaker conference and have struggled mightily to convince the top recruits in high school basketball to come play for them.
College football bowl games are a huge revenue producer for universities, and while UConn can qualify for such bowl games with just six wins in a given season, they finished with three wins and nine losses. UConn men’s basketball currently sits at 11 wins and 12 losses on the season, which would keep them far away from the NCAA Tournament if they keep such a pace.
ESPN College Basketball expert Jeff Goodman says that he had an NBA scout told him that “he didn’t think this UConn team would win any league in the country, including the America East.”