March Madness may be in full swing, but for the men’s basketball team, the season is over. For Head Coach Kevin Ollie, it means his time at UConn may be completely over as well. A few weeks ago, UConn began initiating the termination of Coach Ollie as reported in a story in the Daily Campus by Tyler Keating. This termination comes on the heels of UConn’s first round loss to SMU in the American Athletic Conference Tournament and after the team had a losing record for the last two seasons.
UConn is currently facing a NCAA investigation. According to reporting done by Hearst Post’s Jeff Jacobs, two UConn players (Jalen Adams and Terry Larrier) were participating in impermissible workouts and weren’t cleared to play until later in the season. UConn President Susan Herbst and UConn Athletic Director David Benedict both promised to find a new coach who would live up to the basketball standard that UConn has set. For his part, Ollie has said he will fight his firing with the support of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the union representing UConn’s faculty and staff.
Ollie first came to UConn when he was recruited to play basketball in 1991 by legendary UConn basketball coach, Jim Calhoun. After receiving a Communication degree from UConn, Ollie entered the CBA and then later the NBA. Starting in 1997, Ollie played for 12 teams over the course of 13 seasons in the NBA. While there, he gained a reputation for being a mentor and many teams credit him with changing the culture that existed there. In 2010, Ollie left the NBA and came back to UConn to be an assistant coach under Calhoun. During his tenure as assistant coach, Ollie was instrumental in the team’s 2011 National Championship victory and when Calhoun retired as head coach, Ollie took over.
Ollie’s tenure as head coach was marked by success early on including a national championship victory in 2014. Since then, things have gone downhill including UConn missing the NCAA tournament three out of the past four years.
UConn men’s basketball has been a rough thing to follow for fans in the past few years. Since the beginning of the season, fans have been calling for change and it seems that something will be happening soon.
It is important to remember that everyone involved with UConn Athletics wants what is best for the fans, the program and the school including Coach Ollie. While there have been some unfortunate decisions made in the past, this potential change in the men’s basketball coaching line-up offers a chance for a new era of UConn basketball to be born. UConn fans should trust the process and let things play out before dropping judgement on former coaches and on the athletic program.