But besides the lack of offensive efficiency both teams, there was something even more disconcerting.

UConn was crowned the 2010-11 NCAA champions.

I’m not saying I despise the Huskies, but it’s what happened leading up to the win that irritates me.

In March 2009, Yahoo! Sports reported UConn violated NCAA rules in recruiting former guard Nate Miles.

Former student manager-turned-sports agent Josh Nochimson provided the four-star recruit from Ohio with lodging, transportation, restaurant meals and representation.

The NCAA found evidence of phone calls and text messages exchanged between Miles, Nochimson and a former UConn assistant coach.

In October 2010, UConn acknowledged the violations that occurred when recruiting Miles, and imposed sanctions on its own men’s basketball program, including a reduction in scholarships in each of the next two seasons and a two-year probation.

UConn coach Jim Calhoun was found guilty for failure to “keep an atmosphere of compliance.”

Sounds familiar, right?

It is eerily close to what happened with the USC men’s basketball program three years ago.

Former guard O.J. Mayo was believed to have accepted improper benefits from Rodney Guillory.

The NCAA, however, had no hard evidence to back up the allegations.

But in January 2010, USC chose to self-impose sanctions, which included a reduction in scholarships, a forfeiture of victories during the 2007-08 season and a four-year probation.

More damaging than the loss of scholarships, though, was a one-year ban on postseason play.

To top it all off, the Trojans also lost five recruits during the NCAA’s investigation, most notably three players who starred in Arizona’s Elite Eight run this March: guard Lamont Jones, forward Solomon Hill and forward Derrick Williams.

In USC’s case, the NCAA decided not to punish the Trojans any further. In UConn’s case, which was rendered in February 2011, the NCAA tacked on another year of probation, reduced the number of scholarships from 13 to 12 and the number of recruiting days for coaches by from 130-90. Calhoun must also miss the first three games of the 2011-12 season.

The biggest difference: UConn was allowed to play in the postseason.

The program didn’t ban itself from postseason play, and apparently, the NCAA thought UConn rightfully had served its punishment.

Nobody cares about a loss of scholarships or a reduction in the coach’s recruiting days — all of that is irrelevant.

Basketball programs can survive with 11 players on a roster, especially an elite program such as UConn’s.

And players just want to play in the postseason; they want to play on the biggest stage known in college basketball known as March Madness.

The NCAA could have banned UConn from the Big East and NCAA tournaments, but it didn’t.

However the NCAA deems what punishments are fair or unfair, it should not provide cheaters with an opportunity to win so easily.

UConn clearly broke the rules, yet now sits atop the collegiate basketball world.

Cheaters should never win, and winners should never cheat.

The pervasive nature of these cheating scandals in collegiate athletics has left a dark cloud over the sport.

But I guess it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m used to this madness by now.

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