One of Warde Manuel’s first decisions as athletic director at the University of Connecticut was pretty simple.
Figure out a way to replace Jim Calhoun, the coach who put the UConn men’s basketball program on the map.
Taking into consideration Calhoun’s recommendation, Manuel tabbed Kevin Ollie, then an assistant coach, to be the replacement.
“It (meant) the world to me. If it weren’t for Warde, I wouldn’t be here,” Ollie said. “The ultimate decision was Warde. (President Susan Herbst) (Chairman of UConn Board of Trustees) Larry McHugh. A lot of people were involved.”
A source confirmed to The Daily Campus that Manuel has accepted the athletic director’s position at the University of Michigan, his alma mater.
“He’s done a great job. We wish him the best of luck…He’s done a great job here at this university. He gave me an opportunity and I really appreciate him for that. I wish him the best of luck with whatever he decides,” said Ollie. “He’s a caring person, he loves this university. He’s approachable. He doesn’t think he knows it all. He listens to us coaches and I think that’s great.”
Ollie, in his fourth season as head coach, has delivered a national championship and has overseen the program through a tournament suspension and an unfavorable conference alignment.
The Huskies were suspended for the 2013 postseason due to subpar APR scores from several years earlier. In the following two years, UConn achieved perfect scores of 1,000.
“He’s very academic minded. He did a great job academically here. By putting the right people in place and building off what coach Calhoun did before,” Ollie said.
Ollie has a particular interest in Manuel’s decision. The language of Ollie’s current contract gives him the right to terminate the deal “on or after the one-year anniversary” of either Manuel or Herbst leaving the school without any termination fee.
“I’m going to be coaching this team for a long time,” Ollie said on the possibility of him leaving the program. “Nobody is making any decisions about that. That’s not what I am trying to concentrate on. I don’t even know about that opt-out clause.”
Regardless of what the future may hold for Manuel and Ollie, their personal relationship will continue to be strong.
“He’s a wonderful man. We’ve got a relationship beyond just UConn and basketball,” Ollie said. “We’ve got a personal relationship that will always be there. I’m fortunate to know him.”