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Kevin Ollie May Sue UConn For Defamation

Kevin Ollie looking upset.

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 21: Head coach Kevin Ollie of the Connecticut Huskies reacts during the first half of the college basketball game against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center on December 21, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Huskies 73-58. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Kevin Ollie's legal dispute with UConn over his firing a few months ago continues to heat up. The national championship-winning coach may now file a defamation lawsuit against his former employer and alma mater.

Ollie was fired after his second straight losing season with the Huskies. The team went 14-18 this year, four years after he took him a national title in his second season as head coach.

It is pretty obvious to most that his failures on the court were the impetus for the move. However, the school is pinning the decision on an NCAA investigation into the program. Firing him for cause would allow the school to get out from under his $10 million buyout.

In January, the NCAA opened an inquiry into the Huskies. The Hartford Courantreport on the investigation revealed that it dealt with the team’s recruitment of three unnamed players.

Earlier this month, the Hartford Courant published information obtained about UConn's case against Kevin Ollie via a Freedom of Information Act request.

The alleged violations include recruits shooting around with Ollie, a phone call with NBA great and program booster Ray Allen, and workouts allegedly set up with an Ollie-connected trainer in Atlanta.

There is also an allegation of a $30,000 payment to the mother of a former recruit. However, UConn is not pursuing that allegation.

Now, Ollie's lawyer is using unredacted information released in the FOIA'd documents to claim defamation. From ESPN:

In the letter, which was sent to UConn President Susan Herbst on Tuesday, Ollie's legal team demands a retraction from the school, which recently released NCAA transcripts to media outlets -- in response to a Freedom of Information Act request -- that included a secondhand claim by former associate head coach Glen Miller that Ollie paid the mother of a former recruit $30,000 in exchange for her son's commitment.

Ollie's lawyers want a retraction from the school. They claim the NCAA transcripts detailed false claims and confidential information that was protected by FOIA laws because they're related to an ongoing investigation and personnel matters.

[...]

"This false and defamatory claim was released without prior notice to Coach Ollie and no attempt was made by the University of Connecticut to protect Coach Ollie from this false and defamatory claim or to disavow it," says the letter from Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau, the law firm representing Ollie. "The release of the confidential transcripts was coordinated to coincide with the publication of the news that Coach Ollie's employment was terminated by you on June 19, 2018."

The school argues that the FOIA law "does not permit the selective release of public records to certain parties while denying those same records to others."

Ollie was the hand-picked successor to program architect and legend Jim Calhoun, and after a lengthy NBA career, was one of the Huskies' favorite sons. He turned down potential big NBA opportunities after leading UConn to a surprise title. And now, we have a very ugly legal dispute between the two sides.

[ESPN]