Boatright Still Waiting

HARTFORD – During his postgame press conference Thursday night, Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun went out of his way to observe that the NCAA national offices would be closed for the weekend as of 5 p.m. Friday.

This declaration came in the midst of Calhoun's response to a question about UConn's offensive execution. He was talking about the need for UConn's guards to get more penetration when Ryan Boatright's eligibility issue came to mind.

Boatright, the freshman point guard from Aurora, Ill., has missed two exhibition games and the first three games of the regular season during the joint eligibility review by UConn's compliance staff and the NCAA. If UConn doesn't get a ruling by the end of office hours Friday, it's safe to say Boatright will miss Sunday's game against Coppin State (1 p.m., XL Center).

And then things will get real interesting because the No. 4 Huskies leave Monday morning for the three-day, three-game Battle 4 Atlantis tournament that begins Thanksgiving Day on Paradise Island, Bahamas. What happens if UConn doesn't have a ruling before the team leaves? Could Boatright, who is allowed to practice and sit on the bench in street clothes during games, make the trip?

UConn officials could not answer that question Thursday night. Kyle Muncy, assistant director of athletics for communications, said Friday morning the school would not respond to any hypothetical situations.

"There's no sense of us trying to put pressure on [the NCAA]," Calhoun said. "They'll go at whatever rate. . . . They know our schedule. They know where we are going. And we have asked them, to try to get some time sense of it. We can't do any more than that. We'd like to have them respond as soon as they possibly can."

Calhoun did say there was a conversation Thursday, apparently between the NCAA and UConn's compliance office.

"That's the only thing I was told, that they talked today," Calhoun said after UConn's 80-60 victory over Maine. He went on to say he thinks the eligibility question has been resolved and now the case is in the hands of "enforcement." That would indicate the remaining detail is the length of Boatright's suspension.

UConn said in its initial statement that the review doesn't involve academics. Sources have said it involves Boatright's involvement with an AAU team. There have been reports the case deals specifically with an airplane ticket purchased for Boatright.

Any suspension would be retroactive and include only regular season games. There has been speculation the suspension would be for six games, a rather common penalty in this type of case. In Boatright's case, that could mean he would be eligible to play for the first time on Nov. 26, UConn's final game in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

In November 2000, UConn freshman Caron Butler was suspended three games by the NCAA for receiving money from an outside source to help pay his prep school tuition. Butler's first game that season came in the final game of the Maui Invitational.

In 2003, freshman Charlie Villanueva was declared eligible to play following a six-game NCAA suspension. Villanueva worked out in front of NBA scouts in a Chicago gym in June of that year. Villanueva spent his own money ($600) to pay for the gym time. But the use of the gym was secured in advance with a credit card traced to NBA agent Dan Fagan.

In Villanueva's case, the credit card imprint was discovered Sept. 22 and the NCAA ruling didn't come until December. UConn officials have not responded to questions regarding when the review of Boatright's situation began.

In 2003, NCAA official Bill Saum, speaking to Villanueva's case, told SI.com that delays are inevitable. "The NCAA has no power other than persuasion," Saum, then Director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism Activities, told SI.com. "We have no subpoenas, we have no court orders. People can decide not to cooperate with us, people lie to us on occasion. We have a heavy caseload and we have a lot of facts to gather. None of this happens overnight."


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