After a second consecutive losing season, Kevin Ollie is out as head coach of the UConn men’s basketball team.
UConn has “initiated disciplinary procedures to terminate the employment of Ollie for just cause,” the school announced in a statement Tuesday morning.
“The University will have no further comment on the matter until the completion of both the University’s disciplinary process and the ongoing NCAA investigation,” the statement reads.
Ollie’s contract contains a $10 million buyout were he to be fired this offseason, but by “initiating disciplinary procedures” to terminate his contract for just cause, which would come from the pending NCAA investigation, the university has made the first step towards potentially escaping or reducing the buyout fee.
On the court, UConn struggled immensely this season, finishing 14-18 and going one-and-done in the AAC tournament. That comes just a season after the Huskies finished 16-17.
“The men’s basketball program has a proud history and a tradition of excellence. Our goal, above all, is to ensure we have a program that UConn Nation can be proud of, including our students, alumni, fans, and all our committed supporters,” UConn president Susan Herbst said in the university’s statement.
Since winning the national title in 2014, Ollie’s team has missed three of the last four NCAA tournaments, and their bid in 2016 was made possible partly by a miraculous, half-court buzzer beater when the chips were down.
“It is unfortunate that this decision became necessary. As with all of our programs, we hold men’s basketball to the highest standards. We will begin a national search immediately to identify our next head coach,” UConn athletic director David Benedict said in the statement.
According to the Hearst Post’s Jeff Jacobs, the full extent of NCAA wrongdoing is unknown, but Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier were involved in impermissible workouts and weren’t cleared to play until late in the season.
Per Kevin Ollie firing for just cause: The full extent of alleged wrongdoing and NCAA investigation is unknown but, according to sources, Jalen Adams & Terry Larrier were involved in impermissible workouts and weren’t cleared to play until shortly before start of final SMU game.
— Jeff Jacobs (@jeffjacobs123) March 10, 2018
Ollie told ESPN he, along with the assistance of his union, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), will be contesting the firing.
“The University of Connecticut, which has been my home and my family since I was 18 years of age, has decided to initiate the procedures to terminate my employment for cause, which I am contesting. As the head coach of the University of Connecticut Huskies, which is one of the greatest honors and privileges of my life, I have always diligently promoted an atmosphere of compliance for all involved in the program, directly or indirectly. It has always been my creed to conduct myself in a manner that reflects positively on the university, my program and my family. My objective throughout my eight-year tenure has been to nurture and develop young men to be productive citizens, positive role models and active community leaders. I am confident that I have strived to model behaviors which are consistent with this objective. This process has just begun, and I intend to work vigorously to defend my honor and my integrity, and to defend my good name to the fullest extent provided under the law, the university grievance procedures and the NCAA compliance process,” Ollie said in a statement.
This story is being updated as more news becomes available. Check back for updates.