Boatright Suspended Six Games

Connecticut freshman Ryan Boatright has been suspended six games by the NCAA, the university announced Friday night in a release to the media. The penalty is for receiving improper benefits, presumably before he enrolled at UConn - although the athletic department offered no details.

Boatright's eligibility had been under review by UConn and the NCAA since the beginning of November. Sources told the review was related to improper benefits associated with his Chicago AAU team. There have been reports that the focus was on an airplane ticket purchased for Boatright, but that has not been confirmed by the school or the NCAA.

The ruling means Boatright will be able to travel with UConn to the Battle 4 Atlantis on Paradise Island, Bahamas, and he will play his first game in a UConn uniform on Nov. 26 in the tournament. Boatright missed two exhibition games and three regular season games but was able to practice with the Huskies during the suspension.

UConn plays Coppin State Sunday. That will be the fourth game Boatright has missed. The team travels to the Bahamas Monday morning but Boatright will not be able to play in the first two games of the tournament.

Here is the entire release issued Friday night by UConn:

"University of Connecticut freshman men's basketball player Ryan Boatright has been suspended for six games for receiving improper benefits. The school was notified of the decision by the NCAA Friday evening.

"Boatright has been withheld from the first three regular season games by the school and will also miss the next three games, against Coppin State on November 20 and the first two games of the Battle 4 Atlantis on November 24 & 25. He will be permitted to travel with the team and see action for UConn beginning with the final game of the tournament on November 26.

"Consistent with past practices within the University Of Connecticut Division Of Athletics, and to ensure that the institution has fully followed the guidelines mandated by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (Buckley Amendment), University officials are not at liberty to provide further comment."

Boatright is listed at 6 feet and 160 pounds. He is extremely athletic and won the First Night dunk contest held Oct. 14 at Gampel Pavilion - before the issue was made public.

The Aurora, Ill., native is expected to get plenty of playing time as the backup to starting point guard Shabazz Napier. Without Boatright, Napier has averaged 32.7 minutes and shooting guard Jeremy Lamb, averaging 38.3 minutes, has been forced to take some of the ball handling duties.

Boatright is not the first UConn player to go through this review process.

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 told that delays are inevitable. "The NCAA has no power other than persuasion," Saum, then Director of Agent, Gambling and Amateurism Activities, told "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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