NCAA Men's Basketball

UConn rewards Ollie with $7 million extension

12/31 8:41 AM

Connecticut has given men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie a five-year contract extension through the end of the 2017-18 season.

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut has given men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie a five-year contract extension worth just more than $7 million that will run through the end of the 2017-18 season.

Ollie has demonstrated to UConn that he can coach, lead, coordinate, relate and organize a program.

He also has had to ensure his players performed well academically, especially after a poor Academic Progress Rate spanning a four-year period at the school was the reason the Huskies were the highest-profile program banned from the 2013 postseason.

According to UConn athletic director Warde Manuel, the first-semester grades posted were satisfactory and the results "weren't an issue."

Therefore, Ollie was approached this week with a chance to become the permanent successor to Hall-of-Fame coach Jim Calhoun, instead of a seven-month interim stint. Ollie, who turned 40 on Thursday, had been working under a one-year, $625,000 contract since September, when he was hired to replace the retired Calhoun.

"I'm not replacing coach Calhoun," Ollie said. "He's here, and I'll lean on him for a lot of advice. I'm not following in his footsteps. He has his own shoes. I've got to create my own path and I can't waiver from my convictions.

"I'm used to winning around here. That's why I came here. That's not going to stop. We will do it well and we will do it right."

Ollie's new deal was completed Saturday morning. The Huskies beat Washington 61-53 at Hartford's XL Center on Saturday night.

Ollie will receive a total of $1.2 million in Year 1, with increases to $1.25 million in 2014-15; $1.3 million in 2015-16; $1.325 million in 2016-17 and $1.34 million in 2017-18.

"It's a five-year contract, but I'm looking at it like I can be the coach here for 20-25 years," said Ollie, who consistently has called coaching his alma mater his dream job.

The contract also contains strong language about the Huskies' APR. Ollie will receive a payment of $10,000 if the APR score is 930 or above in a single year, while a four-year APR average of 930 or above would earn him a one-time payment of $50,000.

If UConn's APR score falls below 930, Ollie will not only be coaching a team not going to the postseason again, but he also will lose two weeks of base salary. Two consecutive years of a sub-930 APR would result in possible termination or, at the very least, a suspension.

UConn also included strong buyout language, with Ollie owing the school $3 million if he leaves in 2013, $2 million in '14, $1 million in 2015 and $800,000 in 2016. Conversely, UConn would owe Ollie the same amount each year if he were terminated for anything other than just cause.

Ollie said he had no problem agreeing to the tough APR details, claiming he's committed to the full student-athlete experience. He also said he knows that he was being judged by how his players were responding in the classroom in the fall semester.

Ollie, who played point guard for Calhoun at UConn from 1991-95, was his former coach's hand-picked successor. Ollie became an assistant at UConn in 2010 after 13 years as an NBA journeyman. He never previously had been a head coach on any level.

Ollie relished the opportunity to take over for his mentor, who plucked him from Los Angeles only to see him outwork higher-ranked recruits to get a starting job in his last three seasons for the Huskies.

Ollie was so well-respected in the NBA that he was lauded as much for his on-court play in places such as Philadelphia, Cleveland and Oklahoma City, as much as he was for his locker-room leadership and counsel to younger players. He was on a track to work in the Thunder's front office for general manager Sam Presti had he not taken an assistant coaching job with the Huskies.

The Huskies, who finished a disappointing 20-14 last season a year after winning the program's third national title, were picked to finish ninth in the Big East this season. The postseason ban pushed three players to transfer, including starting center Alex Oriakhi to Missouri. Two others left early for the NBA draft.

Motivating a team that couldn't play in the Big East tournament, let alone the NIT or NCAA, wouldn't have been easy for any coach, including Calhoun, Manuel said.

But UConn has started strong under Ollie, upsetting then-No. 14 Michigan State in the season opener en route to a 10-2 record.

The lack of stability in conference alignment also has been a tenuous subject, as the Huskies were passed over for a spot in the ACC by Big East rival Louisville.

"He has led this team," said Manuel, adding that Ollie has done it in more ways than just wins and losses. "He came into a very tough situation in his first time as a head coach."

Calhoun was on vacation and wasn't at Saturday's impromptu news conference. But Calhoun has been pushing behind the scenes for Ollie to get the full-time job for months. Ollie also has the support of former Huskies now in the NBA, which will prove critical in continued funding for a practice facility and recruiting.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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