Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — Maybe ESPN should set up a director’s chair in Hilton Head for Jim Calhoun to announce “The Decision” during his summer vacation.
The UConn coach said Wednesday he would likely decide whether or not to return next season while on vacation with his family there in June.
“I think when I’m sitting there, maybe with my two sons or something and we just start talking about some things,” Calhoun said at the New York Athletic Club where he is receiving the Winged Foot Award, given each year to the coach of the national champion men’s and women’s basketball teams. “One of them (James) I know would like me to give it up. One of them (Jeff) would like me to stay.
“An epiphany or an awakening or a realization of where I stand, something like that to some degree has to happen to me to make it clear.”
Calhoun, 69, has won three NCAA championships, capturing his third last month when the Huskies beat Butler in the title game in Houston.
Before he decides his next step, he is still enjoying the afterglow of winning another title.
On Monday he and his team met President Obama at the White House, and Calhoun and Obama spoke for 15-20 minutes in the Blue Room.
He said the two men talked about the killing of Osama Bin Laden and how that improved the President’s approval rating to 56 percent from 38 percent.
“I said, ‘Was it the toughest decision you ever made?'” Calhoun recalled.
“And he said, ‘Not even close because it isn’t like you make a decision like we’re going to drop bombs on someplace. It’s like, we’re going to watch it. And something could happen.'”
Calhoun said Obama told him to “keep doing what you believe in, keep changing, keep growing, take responsibility and things eventually work their way out.”
On a lighthearted note, Calhoun said he kidded Obama about being late to the meeting, saying, “You’re lucky you’re late because Kemba wanted a piece of you so bad.'”
“And he got up on stage and said, ‘I’ll play Kemba [Walker] right now, with shoes, tie,” Calhoun recalled.
As for his own future, Calhoun could opt to go out on top, as one of only five coaches in history with three or more rings.
That way he would avoid the three-game suspension the NCAA handed down for failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Calhoun is set to miss the first three games of the Big East season.
He could fill his time with biking, golf and charitable concerns.
He said he had been offered a position as an ambassador for the university.
He said “at least one major network has talked to us about doing analysis twice a week on college basketball.”
Still, although he has yet to formally decide whether he’s coming back, he sounded an awful lot like a man who plans to be on the sidelines next season.
“I’m trying to do everything humanly possible right now to prepare ourselves like I’m going to coach next year,” he said. “And if i’m not, you know what I want. I want one of our family.”
Calhoun pointed out that new UConn President Susan Herbst, who takes over June 1, wants him to return. He has three years remaining on his contract.
“She wants me to stay for a couple years,” he said. “She’s already said that to me in a whole bunch of different ways, contractually and otherwise.”
Whether he returns for a 40th season or not, he wants UConn to be considered among the basketball elite in this country whenever he does step down.
“Are we one of the programs?” he asked. “Are we going to crack the [North] Carolina, the Kentucky, etc., where when you say basketball in America, that this continues and we do another 20 years? That’s very important to me.”
UConn will play in the “Battle 4 Atlantis” Nov. 23-27 in the Bahamas, joining Harvard, Florida State, College of Charleston, Central Florida, UMass, Utah and UNC-Asheville. “We get $150,000, everything free, rooms and etc. down there and we’ll make money on the tournament,” Calhoun said…Calhoun said the team will have nine scholarship players including freshman guard Ryan Boatright and that the program planned to add a 10th. “We’re operating right now on 10 scholarships,” he said.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.