Judge dismisses Kevin Ollie’s claim for racial discrimination on procedural grounds

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2018, file photo, Connecticut head coach Kevin Ollie watches from the sideline during the first half an NCAA college basketball game in Storrs, Conn. A federal judge dismissed a complaint on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, filed by Ollie connected to his allegations that his firing was in part racially motivated, deciding the complaint was filed prematurely. The judge did not rule on the merits of the request. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Former UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie lost his lawsuit Monday claiming the university was illegally blocking him from filing a racial discrimination complaint.

Judge Kari A. Dooly ruled in Bridgeport that Ollie’s complaint was filed prematurely, claiming he had not yet suffered any harm as a result of his firing last March. Ollie and his lawyers alleged that UConn treated him differently than former coach Jim Calhoun, who is white, who faced similar recruiting violations during his time at UConn.

Dooly, however, did not rule on the merits of Ollie’s claim, leaving the door open for him to sue at a later date after the arbitration process is over. The university would be forced to decide whether or not they wanted to withdraw from arbitration. If they did, Ollie could sue once again for illegal behavior on the behalf of UConn, according to the Hartford Courant.

“We are obviously disappointed by the court's decision," Ollie’s lawyer Jacques Parenteau said in a statement. "The action undertaken by Coach Ollie in federal court has also established a basis for arguments at a later date that are suggested by the District Court’s opinion. Kevin Ollie understands that fighting for his rights against the University of Connecticut is a difficult undertaking, but make no mistake about it; Kevin Ollie is playing a long game.”

Ollie was fired in March 2018 after suffering two losing seasons. UConn fired him on the grounds of “just cause,” claiming that he committed multiple recruiting violations, thus exempting the university from having to pay his $10 million buyout. UConn contends that they will be able to withdraw from the arbitration process if Ollie files the racial discrimination claim, according to collectively bargained rights.

The fight is far from over, though – Ollie and the university have yet to come to terms on how the arbitration process will be carried out.


Stephanie Sheehan is the managing editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at stephanie.sheehan@uconn.edu. She tweets @steph_sheehan.