HARTFORD, Conn. -- UConn pleaded guilty to Allegation No. 2. Before we start in on the fantastic notion the head coach knew nothing, first and foremost know that much.
You can spend days parsing nearly 700 pages of the school's response to eight NCAA charges of recruiting violations. You can get delight in the assorted denials of wrongdoing by Beau Archibald, Pat Sellers and Andre LaFleur. You can delight in knowing, no, the buck evidently doesn't stop with Jim Calhoun.
You can even grow so frustrated with pages of redactions that you throw all 700 of them in the garbage.
This is what you need to know about Allegation No. 2: As a former team manager turned certified agent, Josh Nochimson was a representative of the institution's athletic interest. He provided Nate Miles with impermissible gifts, and the UConn men's basketball staff knew or should have known about those benefits.
No more "prove its" from a legion of apologists. No more "if mistakes were made" from Calhoun. UConn President Philip E. Austin came right out and said it Friday. "Mistakes were made."
Guilty on Allegation No. 2.
UConn said so.
A former UConn towel boy greased a recruit's hands with up to $14,000, according to Calhoun's response -- who knows how much it really was? -- while talking and texting the basketball coaching staff nearly as much as he did his own girlfriend. That's the major violation here, not only in the NCAA vernacular, but in the morality of amateur sport. UConn said an assistant, who has since resigned, provided impermissible assistance, too, although Archibald denies it.
Forget the phone calls, texts and tickets. OK, that's an overstatement. Don't forget them. They speak to the program's sloppiness. Yet much of it is nickel and dime stuff. Allegation No. 2 is why Yahoo! Sports worked so hard and so long on this story. This is why the NCAA jumped in with two heavy feet. This is why UConn's legal bill for the entire process is heading toward seven figures. This is why two assistant coaches went overboard. This isn't whispers. This is fact. And UConn should be ashamed of itself.
On Friday, UConn raised the flag of mini-surrender to see if the NCAA will salute at the loss of one scholarship this season and next, two years probation, and a reduction on the number of coaches who contact recruits. Think about it. UConn only has 12 scholarships some years anyway. George Blaney rarely travels to recruit. And probation is little more than an order to keep your nose clean.
We should all be punished so severely.
Miles started out on scholarship in 2008, and the reason why he did not play at all in that Final Four season must never be forgotten. He was expelled from UConn not long after arriving. Arrested for abuse, Miles then violated a restraining order 16 minutes after he received it. Nothing in this saga is more ironic than this: Because Miles was expelled before he could play, UConn doesn't figure to lose its Final Four banner, forfeit games or future postseason play.
That didn't mean Calhoun's lawyer Scott Tompsett wouldn't try to up the irony ante in denying allegations that Calhoun had failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Tompsett wrote Calhoun finds it ironic that the NCAA enforcement staff would single out Calhoun, not AD Jeff Hathaway or the compliance staff, for a major allegation when he was the one who did the most to inquire about Miles and warn him not to accept impermissible benefits from Nochimson.
And get this: The school agrees with Calhoun that the NCAA doesn't have the evidence against him, while admitting it failed to adequately monitor the conduct and administration of the basketball program.
I started the day being very surprised UConn would release the report on the day its football team was appearing on ESPN -- the scroll beneath the game screaming NCAA violations. But that's nothing compared to ...
Two assistants -- below Calhoun -- already out the door, and now the athletic director -- above Calhoun -- is also at fault. The head coach? He didn't do anything wrong beyond leaving a couple of tickets for a couple of AAU coaches. In fact, he's kind of the protagonist in the story.
Next week Calhoun and the rest of the UConn contingent will appear at a hearing before the NCAA committee on infractions. Let's see how that committee reacts to a couple of assertions.
If Calhoun is correct that he didn't know anything about the benefits to Miles; if Calhoun is correct that he is the only one who took action to find out why Nochimson was involved with Miles; if Calhoun is correct he had Archibald call Nochimson to ask about it; if Calhoun is correct that he made it clear that Nochimson was not to be involved with Miles, spoke to Hathaway and compliance officer Marielle vanGelder about his concerns ... well, Hathaway should be in a lot more trouble than he is.
Hathaway is answerable to Austin, who is answerable to the Board of Trustees, which is answerable to state government. Somebody sure as hell failed to stop Allegation No. 2 before Yahoo! unearthed the story. And don't try to lay it all on a renegade assistant.
"(Calhoun) reasonably believed that the issue was in capable hands with Hathaway and (UConn's counsel for NCAA matters Rick) Evrard," Tompsett wrote. "Calhoun relied on them to tell him if there were problems, and to guide him and his staff about compliance issues that had been brought to their attention."
Calhoun also took on the NCAA, asserting there is no legislation that states a head coach has "an affirmative obligation" to deter an agent from providing benefits to a recruit. That a coach isn't mandated to be an investigator.
It'll be fascinating to see how that goes over in the NCAA hearing when they reverse the field and ask Calhoun about how hard he worked to get Miles into UConn over the concerns of some administrators. When they ask Calhoun how he fought to keep Miles in school even after his arrest and how he wanted to get him back even after he left for Southern Idaho.
But he knew nothing. Dana O'Neil of ESPN.com compared the situation to Sergeant Schultz. Or is it Pontius Calhoun, pilot of a ship he doesn't captain? The NCAA titles? His program. NCAA violations? Evidently not his program.
If the NCAA refutes Calhoun in its findings later this year, finds him guilty of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance, he should look at retiring. At that point, he would have lost a grip on his mission as a college coach and educator. If the NCAA finds him right, Hathaway must be under direct fire for failing to act on Calhoun's warnings.