Calhoun has said that he did not retire after his third national title last year in large part because he wanted to see through NCAA sanctions that resulted from recruiting violations in his program. He was suspended for three games at the start of the Big East season, and didn't want another coach to serve that penalty.
Now, the team faces a possible banishment from the 2013 NCAA tournament because of past academic problems. Retiring also would likely leave Calhoun in sixth place on the all-time wins list, where he is just five behind legend Adolph Rupp.
"So, the most perplexing thing for people that are close to him is, what is the scenario?" Leitao said. "Should he ride off into the sunset winning the national championship as they did last year and things are going very well, or do you want to see through things like the APR or NCAA sanctions or even having a bad year. Do you want to leave on that note?"
George Blaney, the longtime assistant who led UConn to a 3-5 record during Calhoun's latest absence, said he knows his friend's heart is still in the game.
"That's why we've gotten along for 40 years. There is no way that I could get along with Jim Calhoun for 40 years and no way he could get along with me for 40 years except that we love to be in the gym," he said. "It's something that's part of us. I know both of us want to keep coaching. Whether or not we can keep coaching is always up in the air."
If Calhoun has decided what his future holds, he hasn't made that decision public. But those who know him best all say they would be surprised if he walks away now.
"I can't ever see coach leaving," said Walker, now in the NBA with the Charlotte Bobcats. "He's such a strong guy mentally. I think he'll overcome everything he's going through right now."
Calhoun said he's not returning for trophies or praise or "anything else." What motivates him, he said, is "being around the kids and knowing what the game did for me and knowing what it is going to eventually do for a lot of these kids and watching their growth."
"I got a chance to watch some of it from a distance," he said. "I didn't like that, obviously. It's hard to do. So, I want to be back near them."
The feeling is mutual.
"He didn't have to come back," UConn forward Jeremy Lamb said. "He still needs rest and stuff. But he decided to come back and be with us and give us all he's got, so I think that meant a lot to the team.
"So, all we can do for him is play as hard as we can."
Associated Press Sports Writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this report.
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