HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut guard Ryan Boatright says he just wants to concentrate on basketball while his mother considers legal action in the wake of an NCAA news release detailing an investigation into the freshman’s eligibility.
Boatright played Sunday in the 24th-ranked Huskies’ 50-48 loss to Notre Dame after the NCAA said it would it take no further action, despite finding that he and his mother had accepted more than $8,000 in impermissible benefits from at least two people.
“It’s finally over with,” Boatright said after scoring six points. “We can finally put it behind us. We don’t have to worry about me getting pulled out again. We just have to use this to our advantage and come together as a team and make this last final run.”
But Scott Tompsett, an attorney representing Ryan’s mother, Tanesha, issued a statement calling Saturday’s NCAA news release that announced the findings false and misleading. He said the people providing the benefits were friends of the Boatright family and had “no expectation of repayment or reciprocation.”
“And there’s not a shred of evidence that they influenced Ryan’s decision to attend UConn or that they intend to represent Ryan if he ever goes pro,” he said. “The public also should know that the NCAA never told Tanesha and Ryan who made the accusations about them or told them the substance of the accusations so they could defend themselves.”
Tompsett, who also has represented Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun in the past, said the Boatrights had been told the information they gave the NCAA would be kept confidential.
“The NCAA has violated the Boatrights’ privacy by releasing their personal information,” he said.
The NCAA said the benefits included car payments, travel expenses for his mother during four official visits to NCAA schools, and approximately $1,200.
“In addition, Mr. Boatright was provided travel expenses, hotel, meals and training expenses during a two-night trip to California,” the organization said.
The NCAA said the benefits came from at least two people with links to “nonscholastic basketball and professional sports.”
Several news organizations, including ESPN and The New York Times, had previously reported that a plane ticket was purchased for Boatright’s mother by Reggie Rose, who runs the AAU team for which Boatright played. Rose, the brother of NBA star Derrick Rose, has declined to comment on the case.
The NCAA said it allowed Boatright to return to action after determining he has lived up to an agreement that gave him limited immunity for cooperating in the investigation, and is “likely the least culpable” of those involved in the violations.
NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn issued a statement Sunday saying the organization had not violated the family’s privacy nor implied that the benefits were used to influence Boatright to attend UConn.
“In fact, both UConn. and Mr. Boatright should be commended for their cooperation throughout the process to gather information,” she said. “The school and student-athlete’s dedication to uncover the facts should be viewed as a positive example, not somehow construed negatively. Had Ms. Boatright cooperated fully from the beginning, this matter could have been settled months ago.”
Boatright has missed nine games this season as a result of the investigation, including a six-game suspension to start the season. He also is repaying $4,500 in benefits. He was held out of the last three games as the NCAA looked into additional information.
He said he considers the matter closed.
“I’m just happy to be back on the court,” he said. “Whatever my mom and the lawyer got going on, that’s with them.”
The 6-foot Boatright received a standing ovation when he entered the game just under 4 minutes into the first half. His first points came on a runner in the lane at the halftime buzzer that gave UConn a 24-21 lead. He finished 3 of 6 from the field.
“I’m sure that Ryan was trying to work out a lot of kinks,” Calhoun said. “But, he’s always going to give you a very good effort. He’s a good basketball player and I think he has a great future with us.”
Before Tompsett’s release, university President Susan Herbst issued a statement on Sunday praising Boatright’s character.
“This young man has shown tremendous patience and poise all the while in the national spotlight,” she said. “This is a strength of character that is seldom demanded of college freshmen and I am extraordinarily proud of him, our team and our coaching staff.”
Connecticut went 6-3 this season with Boatright out of the lineup, but dropped two of three when he was forced to sit out a second time. The Huskies (14-6, 4-4 Big East) won at Notre Dame, snapping the Irish’s 29-game home-court winning streak, before losing consecutive games to Cincinnati and Tennessee, each by three points.
Boatright averaged more than 10 points and three assists in the 10 games he played after being reinstated to the team.