University of Connecticut president Susan Herbst has upheld the school’s decision to fire men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie. The school is looking to strengthen its case that it fired Ollie for cause by blaming him for NCAA rules violations UConn has self-reported.
It’s important to the university to prove that the coach’s firing was for cause because that means the $10 million left on his contract shouldn’t be paid out.
A Freedom of Information Act request by the Hartford Courant showed that the school told the NCAA that Ollie is responsible for holding an impermissible workout with a recruit on campus. There’s more listed in the report, including a call to a potential recruit from UConn great Ray Allen that the school says Ollie put together.
“It seems like they’re trying to leverage their way by saying, ‘We can get you on these minor things, but we also have these major things that might stand up.’ So there’s going to be a question of whether that rises to the level of misconduct that would constitute just cause,” said Dom Amore, a writer who reported this story for the Courant.
The school said it’s not commenting beyond the release of the documents because the employment matter has not yet been resolved.
Ollie and his lawyers don’t believe he should’ve been fired for cause, so an arbitrator will hear his case.
Amore suggests the two sides could work out a settlement.
“Perhaps they can meet in the middle—find a figure that they’re both okay with and also, language of the terms that Kevin can live with because I know he wants to preserve his reputation and his name,” Amore said.
For his part, Ollie hasn’t said much since the firing. But he did send a letter to UConn fans this week. In the letter, the former UConn coach and player referenced his replacement, Dan Hurley.
“I continue to 'bleed Blue' and wish Coach Hurley and the players all the best as they compete for the next NCAA title.”
Ollie was fired in March. Shortly afterward, Hurley was named his replacement.