New York Jim Calhoun still can’t shake the night he heard a chant bellowed at him that went against all he stood for as Connecticut’s basketball coach.
“Cheater! Cheater! Cheater!”
The taunt came from Michigan State fans before the Spartans played Calhoun’s Huskies during the 2009 national semifinals at Ford Field in Detroit. It wasn’t long after a report broke that said UConn coaches exceeded limits on the number of phone calls to a recruit, and Calhoun was stung by the idea that fans would viciously attack his integrity.
“I may be a lot of things, profane, but that word I’m not,” Calhoun said. “I’m a lot of things. You can like or dislike me, but that I’m not.”
The word bothered him then and still does today, because Calhoun remains firm that no matter what comes of an NCAA investigation into his program, he did not cheat. UConn, though, did rack up serious infractions that forced him and school officials to meet met with NCAA investigators last week to convince them they had done enough to punish themselves for recruiting violations.
Calhoun, speaking Wednesday at Big East Media Day, said he’s excited as ever to start a season even as the NCAA penalties linger. He laughed when he said he wasn’t dreading the idea of having to answer questions about the violations.
“No, I faced 14 hours of it last Friday,” Calhoun said, “and I couldn’t talk back.”