Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun took responsibility Friday for recruiting violations committed under his watch, apologizing to the university and his current players in a lengthy statement issued by his representative.
Calhoun acknowledged his staff made mistakes but declined to address the specific findings or sanctions released by the NCAA earlier this week. UConn was spared a postseason ban, but Calhoun was cited for failure to create an atmosphere of compliance within the program.
"As the leader of the Connecticut basketball program and an ambassador of the university, the buck stops with me. No qualifications, no exceptions," Calhoun said in the statement. "I fully acknowledge that we, as a staff, made mistakes and would like to apologize."
Along with three years' probation, the school also received scholarship reductions for three academic years, recruiting restrictions and is forced to dissociate with a booster not named in the NCAA's report. The school will not be able to accept financial contributions, recruiting assistance or provide that individual with any benefits or privileges.
Calhoun, who has turned UConn into one of the nation's most successful programs, was also given a three-game suspension he will serve at the start of the 2011-12 Big East season.
His lawyer, Scott Tompsett, said Calhoun has not decided whether he will appeal.
"Throughout my 39-year career, my intentions have been, and will continue to be, on doing things the right way," Calhoun said, "in full compliance with the rules of my profession, and more importantly, with a moral and ethical standard that has been at the center of who I strive to be as a person. I remain committed to doing my job with integrity."
This was the first time the program had received a letter from the NCAA accusing the school of major violations. UConn will be on probation from Feb. 22, 2011, through Feb. 21, 2014.
The NCAA and the school had been investigating the program since shortly after a report by Yahoo! Sports in March 2009 that former team manager Josh Nochimson helped guide recruit Nate Miles to Connecticut, giving him lodging, transportation, meals and representation.
As a former team manager, Nochimson was considered a representative of UConn's athletic interests by the NCAA and prohibited from giving Miles anything of value.
The school said it found the basketball staff exchanged more than 1,400 calls and 1,100 text messages with Nochimson between June 2005 and December 2008. Members of the coaching staff also provided 32 impermissible complimentary tickets to individuals responsible for teaching or directing activities with prospective student-athletes.
Miles was expelled from UConn in October 2008 without ever playing for the Huskies, while Nochimson was attempting to become an NBA agent.
Calhoun said he regretted the attention the sanctions have placed on his current team, which has lost five of its last eight games. The Huskies (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) lost 74-67 in overtime to Marquette on Thursday night to fall into a tie for ninth in the Big East; the top eight schools get a bye during the conference tournament starting March 8 in New York City.
Calhoun missed the game to be with his family in New Hampshire following the death of his sister-in-law on Monday. Associate head coach George Blaney replaced him on the bench.
The 68-year-old Calhoun plans to be back with the Huskies (20-7, 8-7) for their game against Cincinnati on Sunday. They finish the regular season against West Virginia on Wednesday and ninth-ranked Notre Dame next Saturday, before opening the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden.
"My personal feelings about this situation and the NCAA's findings will remain private and I will not have any further public comment on this matter," Calhoun said. "I am energized and excited about the remainder of the regular season and what the postseason may hold, and our program remains committed to making UConn and all associated with it proud of what we do."