Alleged NCAA violations are at the center of UConn's attempt to get out from under a $10 million buyout for former head basketball coach Kevin Ollie. Today, new allegations were made against the former Huskies player and national championship-winning coach.
In January, the NCAA opened an inquiry into the Huskies program. The original Hartford Courantreport on the investigation revealed that it dealt with the team's recruitment of three unnamed players. It was not specified if those players ended up at UConn.
UConn finished the season 14-18, its second-straight losing season under Ollie. Just four years after winning a national championship, he was fired.
After a two-week search, UConn replaced Ollie with Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley. He has led the Rams to back-to-back 25-win seasons and second-round NCAA Tournament trips.
UConn is trying to fire Kevin Ollie for cause, using the NCAA investigation and violation allegations, in an attempt to avoid paying him his $10 million buyout.
This evening, the Hartford Courant published more information on the case against Ollie, after using a Freedom of Information Act request for documents about the violations. According to the paper's report, alleged impermissible workouts, as well as contact with UConn legend and program booster Ray Allen are the main issues:
"Former UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie violated NCAA rules when he shot baskets with a recruit during an official visit, set up an impermissible call between Ray Allen and a recruit and was aware of three players working with an outside trainer, on campus and in Atlanta, in 2015 and 2016, according to the university.
The documents include a letter to Ollie in which athletic director David Benedict wrote, “… at the time of your hire, the importance of absolute compliance in running our men’s basketball program was stressed to you by president [Susan] Herbst and then-athletic director Warde Manuel. That makes the violations I … describe all the more troubling.”
The allegations, if true, are definitely NCAA violations. However, they are relatively minor infractions in terms of what we often see in college basketball. The school would not be pushing for Ollie's dismissal if these violations occurred in a year after the national championship season.
In April, a few weeks after his dismissal, an attorney for Kevin Ollie alleged that UConn had violated the coach's constitutional rights. On the court, we know that Hurley is in Storrs and Ollie is gone, but with $10 million hanging in the balance for a public institution of a cash-strapped state, this remains a massive issue for both sides.