The saga of Kevin Ollie made a major development yesterday. After obtaining over 1,300 pages of documents, the Hartford Courant reported that the UConn investigation alleged multiple NCAA violations from Ollie, including players working out with outside trainers, shooting baskets with a recruit during an official visit and setting up a phone call between Ray Allen and a recruit.
These charges are being led by UConn athletic director David Benedict, who told Ollie “… 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.” He also said that “Every violation I am raising was discovered from sources other than you or your staff,” instead of Ollie reporting the violations himself.
On the other side, Michael Bailey, director of the UConn chapter of the American Association of University Professors, stated that: “To falsely claim ‘just cause’ exists for alleged NCAA infractions in order to avoid paying a debt that is due to Coach Ollie exposes the hypocrisy of the University’s treatment of coach Ollie.” This is in reference to the fact that UConn did not fire other coaches who committed NCAA violations, including Jim Calhoun.
One of the most serious allegations is that Ollie organized a phone call between a potential recruit and a booster, former UConn and NBA star Ray Allen. Ollie then tried to claim that this phone call was not organized. However, the fact that it was made on one of his assistant’s phone and from Ollie’s home suggests that the call was indeed organized and perhaps even hidden.
Ollie also took place in a shoot-around with multiple potential recruits while they were on official visits. This included James Akinjo, who decommitted from UConn in March, and another unnamed potential recruit. In both cases, a family member of the recruit took a video of the shoot around which made its way online.
In 2015-16, several players trained in Atlanta with a close personal friend of Ollie, Derek Hamilton. The players who participated were transported, housed and fed there all at no cost to them. Ollie tried to deny the role that Hamilton had in the program and claimed that Hamilton did not train any players. He even tried to say that Hamilton did not spend much time on campus, but this was disproved by hotel records. To top it off, Ollie gave Hamilton free tickets to multiple games.
All of the chargs above are NCAA violations that could allow UConn to get rid of Ollie without paying him the $10 million buyout he is owed. The next step for this case is arbitration, since the decision to fire Ollie was upheld by university President Susan Herbst on Tuesday.
Jorge Eckardt is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.