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UConn Men's Basketball Under NCAA Investigation

UConn Huskie's mascot with both arms up.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - APRIL 03: Jonathan the Husky, mascot for the Connecticut Huskies, performs against the Oregon State Beavers in the second quarter during the semifinals of the 2016 NCAA Women's Final Four Basketball Championship at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 3, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

It has been a scandal-ridden year for college basketball, and now UConn men's basketball is once again under NCAA investigation.

UConn got into some NCAA trouble during the end of legendary coach Jim Calhoun's tenure. The Huskies were ineligible for post-season play when Kevin Ollie took over for his mentor in 2012-13.

It didn't take long for him to rebound. Led by Shabazz Napier, UConn captured a national championship the very next season.

UConn went 32-8 overall in 2013-14. It entered the NCAA Tournament as a seventh-seed in the East Region.

The Huskies escaped a scrappy 10-seed Saint Joseph's in the first game, winning 89-81 in overtime. From there, UConn went on a serious run.

Ollie's team took down former Big East foe Villanova, Iowa State, Michigan State, No. 1 seed Florida, and eventually a super young and talented Kentucky team. It was UConn's fourth men's basketball national championship.

Things have not gone so well since. Ollie's team has only gotten back to the Tournament once since, in 2016 when it fell in the second round to Kansas.

Last season, UConn finished with a losing record (16-17) for the first time since 1986-87. Now, the program has confirmed that it is under NCAA investigation. From the New Haven Register:

The NCAA has notified UConn of an inquiry into its men’s basketball program, Hearst Connecticut Media has learned and the school confirmed Thursday. While the full nature of the inquiry is uncertain, some, if not all, involves areas of recruiting, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.

Word of NCAA involvement comes at a trying time in Kevin Ollie’s tenure as coach. The Huskies endured their first losing season in three decades in 2016-2017 and have struggled through the first two months of this season.

“We are working closely with the NCAA enforcement division,” UConn said in a statement.

The school put out a full statement confirming the investigation. Via Twitter:

There is no indication that this has a connection to the FBI's probe into the sport. Few details about what this may pertain to are available at this time.

It has been an especially tough few days for UConn men's basketball. This announcement comes on the heels of the news that Sydney Wilson, a former four-star recruit out of the Bronx, will not be eligible to play this season.

Wilson originally committed to be a member of St. John's 2017 recruiting class. However, after enrolling, he decided that it wasn't the right place, and quickly transferred up to Connecticut in early September.

There was hope that he would be allowed to play right away, given the quick nature of his decision, and the fact that the recent passing of his mother was a factor in his original decision. However, on Thursday night the school received news that Wilson will have to sit out the season. From the New Haven Register:

Wilson transferred to UConn in early September and was ruled ineligible for this season, per NCAA transfer rules. UConn applied for a waiver, but the NCAA didn’t initially rule on it until the end of December. Part of the reason for the nearly three-month wait, according to Wilson, Sr., was that St. John’s wasn’t very cooperative in the process. The Wilson family and UConn were hoping for support from St. John’s, but it didn’t come.

“We decided to do neither,” St. John’s athletic director Anton Goff told Hearst Media Connecticut, “and let UConn apply for the waiver on their own merits. If the young man gets in, fine. But we didn’t support it, and we didn’t not support it.”

Last night, UConn got the Wilson news. This morning, this NCAA news. It's not the best news cycle for Husky fans. To make matters worse, the team is just 10-9 on the year, and in serious jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament once again. It is unclear if Ollie will be able to survive that, especially if there is NCAA trouble looming as well.

[New Haven Register]