No decision will be made about Kevin Ollie's future at UConn until after the college basketball season is over.
Kevin Ollie faces issues on multiple fronts. UConn men's basketball faces challenges on the court, and now, with the NCAA.
Ollie's program has struggled since his unexpected national championship. In his second season as head coach, and first of NCAA Tournament eligibility, the Huskies went all the way.
As a seven seed in the tournament, the team ran through schools like Villanova, Michigan State, and Florida. Shabazz Napier was a superstar all tournament, and led the team to a victory over Kentucky in the national championship.
It is hard to justify firing a coach with a title under his belt from his alma mater. However, things have turned a bit sour for Ollie since that 2014 run.
The team has made just one NCAA Tournament since. The Huskies bowed out of the 2016 edition of the Big Dance in the second round.
Overall, he is 124-72. However, the Huskies finished under .500 for the first time since 1987 last year, going 16-17.
The team could finish with a losing record again this year, and currently sit at 11-12. Now, the NCAA is investigating the program for recruiting violations involving three players. From the Hartford Courant:
“Sources told The Courant the NCAA has already conducted roughly 100 hours of interviews with individuals potentially involved. Those interviews have picked up in pace over the last week or so, and the inquiry includes the recruitment of at least three players, though not necessarily players who eventually came to UConn. The NCAA, which has not responded to a request for comment, compels interviewees not to comment.”
Athletic director David Benedict discussed the issues facing the storied program today. He says that he will not rush to judgment based on the team's slow start, and will evaluate everything at the end of the season. From The Associated Press:
But Benedict indicated that Ollie's job is safe through the remainder of this season. He said he has a good relationship the coach, who was hired by the previous athletic director and believes he "wants to do things the right way."
"We've had some unbelievable finishes to our seasons," Benedict said. "Let's not jump out and get ahead of ourselves. Let's continue to evaluate. At the time the season is over that will be the appropriate time to start to look at all aspects of the program."
Ollie definitely gets some extra leeway given his previous success, his status as an alumnus, and his connection to legendary coach Jim Calhoun, who retired just over a month before the 2012 season, giving Ollie a chance to prove himself as head coach.
By December, after a 10-2 start, Kevin Ollie had received a five-year deal. His contract was renewed again after the 2014 national championship. If he makes it through this season, however, barring a significant turnaround and/or a clean review from the NCAA, he would probably have to be on extremely thin ice ahead of 2018-19.