Manuel: ‘This is a frustrating time for me’

We spent a few minutes on the phone with UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel on the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance’s decision to refuse UConn’s appeal and uphold the postseason ban on the school’s men’s basketball team.

Manuel obviously isn’t pleased with the decision or the situation the Huskies are in. Here are his comments:

— The Huskies were notified Wednesday afternoon of the committee’s decision.

There is a chance the reporting dates could be changed when the committee meets in April or July, thereby giving the Huskies a chance to play int he 2013 postseason, but Manuel said he’s not very confident of such a scenario.

“Given where we are now, I’m not completely confident,” Manuel said. “I’m hopeful, I guess would be the best word, that the committee will continue to discuss the timing of the implementation and whether or not they’ll use the most current two years to determine the APR for postseason play.”

— Manuel was asked if he believes the Huskies, who have been docked two scholarships this year and will likely lose one next season, are being punished twice for their APR shortcomings:

“Yes,” he said plainly.

Asked to elaborate Manuel paused for a good length of time, trying to choose his words carefully.

“This is a frustrating time for me,” Manuel began.

“We are committed to our student athletes’ success. Our student athletes, in general, have had tremendous success in the classroom and we’re not going to let this define us,” Manuel said.

Manuel says he and the Huskies support the APR in general, its concept and its goals.

“What I’m totally frustrated by is how they have implemented this rule without notice to the membership,” Manuel said.

“I never, ever remember _ and nobody I talk to can tell me of _ any legislation that’s been changed and made retroactive that would have this kind of effect on our current student athletes,” Manuel said.

— Manuel says this ruling shouldn’t impact coach Jim Calhoun’s decision about whether or not to retire.

“Obviously Jim is not happy about it, about where we find ourselves in the men’s basketball program,” Manuel said. “Beyond that, Jim and I have not talked about any impact of this on his decision or my decision or any part of the conversation around whether or not he will be here. Jim is our coach and Jim is committed to working to ensure that the student-athletes continue to do what they’re doing now.”

So has Manuel talked to Calhoun about his future and whether or not he’s officially returning? He won’t say.

“I’m not going to discuss any of the conversations I’ve had with any of our coaches around their contracts or conversations we’ve had about their plans for the future,” Manuel said.

— Manuel, like many people are UConn, probably isn’t thrilled that the Big East decided to bar the Huskies from its tournament on top of everything. He said Thursday that he doesn’t feel singled out on that matter.

“This is applied to all and any postseason ban by the NCAA. The APR happens to fall into that but it could be a situation like USC found itself in this year, where they had probation and were banned from postseason play and they were not allowed from the Pac-12 tournament,” Manuel said.

“I think it’s where most conferences that I know of have moved to in terms of their policy about their tournaments,” Manuel said. “I didn’t take it as it was trying to single us out as an institution.”

— No players other than Alex Oriakhi have asked to be released from their scholarships, Manuel said.

“At this point and time no,” Manuel said.

Dom Amore smartly asked Manuel about a third level of appeal in which a school can ask the chairman of the committee directly for a change in the ruling. Apparently this has already taken place, though Walt Harrison recused himself from the process.

“That was this third appeal. Walt recused himself as the chairman. The vice chair heard the third appeal,” Manuel said. “This is the final decision on behalf of the committee.”

— Also, here is the initial application for a waiver and UConn’s later appeal to the committee.



About Neill

Neill Ostrout covers the UConn men's basketball team for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. He has been a member of the "Horde" for more than 16 years.
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