An ESPN report might have shed some light on why Tennessee decided to end its women’s basketball series with Connecticut. Interestingly, the report involves ESPN itself.
Connecticut has responded to NCAA concerns that its women’s basketball office helped arrange a private tour of the Bristol, Conn.-based sports and entertainment network complex for then-top recruit Maya Moore.
The tour, which might have violated NCAA rules because it might be considered an extra benefit, took place in October 2005 and included Moore and her mother, Kathryn.
Citing two sources, ESPN reported that the tour amounted to a secondary rules violation.
Citing the same unidentified sources, ESPN reported Wednesday the NCAA began looking into the tour after fielding a complaint from the SEC over concerns raised by Tennessee.
Moore, a 6-foot forward, signed with the Huskies and was named the Big East Conference player of the year this season — a first for a freshman.
Tennessee coach Pat Summitt offered no comment on the matter, a stance she has maintained since UT declined to renew the series contract last spring.
“I’m focusing on the team and trying to figure out how we can get to Tampa,’’ said Summitt, referring to the site of the Women’s Final Four.
The recruitment of Moore was believed to be a factor in UT’s decision to discontinue the high-profile series with Connecticut, which began in 1995.
UConn declined Wednesday to say whether the school self-reported the incident or whether the NCAA considered it a violation and offered a brief statement.
“The institution has worked with the NCAA on the matter and the association has taken no action,” the school said.
Stacey Osburn, a spokeswoman for the NCAA said the organization does not comment on current, pending or potential investigations. Osburn said the NCAA has two categories for violations — major and secondary. A secondary violation is one that is inadvertent in nature or doesn’t represent a “significant competitive advantage.”
ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz confirmed that the network set up the tour for Moore and her mother after being contacted by a member of the UConn women’s basketball office. The Storrs campus is about an hour drive from the Bristol studios.
Because of the questions raised over the tour, ESPN has changed its policy on how tours are arranged, Krulewitz said.
“To avoid any concern in the future, our tour policy will prohibit high school athletes from receiving tours at the request of a college or university athletic officials,” Krulewitz said.
Calling About Caldwell: Summitt said that Memphis associate athletic director Lynn Parkes has called, inquiring about Lady Vols assistant coach Nikki Caldwell regarding Memphis’ head coaching opening.
Summitt said that she told Parkes, “There’s definitely going to be interest in her.”
There also are head coaching openings at UCLA and Alabama.