The University of Connecticut announced on Tuesday it paid former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie $11.1 million in an arbitration award, representing what Ollie would have been due under the remainder of his contract had he not been fired.
Ollie was terminated in March 2018 for a violation of NCAA rules and regulations. At the conclusion of its investigation in 2019, the NCAA found Ollie had committed a “level one” infraction, providing false and misleading information to investigators, among other smaller infractions, according to an article by the Hartford Courant.
Mark L. Irvings, the case arbitrator, determined that despite UConn being justified in Ollie’s firing, the school should have waited for the NCAA to conduct its own thorough investigation before termination.
UConn expressed its disagreement with Irvings’ ruling, saying it felt the need to act urgently because it had the evidence it needed to terminate. University spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said the university would expect other programs to prioritize integrity and comply with NCAA rules.
“The university’s primary responsibility with respect to athletic compliance is to protect the integrity of its programs. In light of that, UConn could not have waited 16 months to act on the information and evidence it already had at the time the decision was made to end Ollie’s employment,” said Reitz. “In fact, the NCAA expects its member institutions to take appropriate action when the institution determines there has been a rules violation. Failure to do so could have exposed the university to additional institutional sanctions.”
Reitz said the lack of prioritization of the contract itself disrupts UConn’s ability to run a compliant program.
“This is precisely why all of our coaches have employment contracts detailing their compliance obligations. The arbitrator’s reliance on the collective bargaining agreement in this case, rather than the contract, undercuts that effort,” said Reitz.
UConn has since moved on from this situation and will continue to prioritize the school, its coaches, student-athletes and fans.