Kevin Ollie is getting back into coaching. The former UConn men’s basketball coach has been hired as the head coach and director of player development for Overtime Elite, a new alternative basketball league for elite prospects between 16 and 18.
“My time away has reaffirmed that my purpose and true passion is coaching,” he wrote in an op-ed on The Athletic.
“There is no better fit as coach for what we’re trying to accomplish than Kevin Ollie,” OTE Commissioner and President Aaron Ryan said in a release. “Kevin’s resume speaks for itself, highlighted by a 13-year NBA playing career and winning NCAA championships as both a head and assistant coach. But the respect and admiration he has earned from teammates, players he’s coached, and his coaching peers speak to the impact he will have on the next generation of athletes in preparing them for the pros.”
Ollie had been out of coaching since UConn fired him at the end of the 2017-18 season. Since then, he’s kept a low profile, spending much of that time with his children while helping to open an acupuncture practice in Burlington, Massachusetts back in 2019.
After a few years out of the spotlight, Ollie is ready to get back on the sideline with Overtime Elite, which will pay up to 30 prospects at least $100,000 per year along with “bonuses and equity.” If they decide not to go pro, Overtime will give them up to $100,000 to earn a college degree.
Players receive “a year-round development program combining world-class coaching, cutting-edge sports science and performance technologies, top-notch facilities, and a rigorous, highly personalized academic program” and can also benefit from their name, image, and likeness.
“In basketball circles, there has been a lot of talk over the years about revamping a broken system,” Ollie wrote. “Today, high school prospects bounce from school to school. Parents pay big money so their kids are able to travel and participate in high-level competition. Education is often not a priority. Prospects enter the pros without the necessary professional skills-training needed for successful careers at the next level. And they lack the business literacy to know how to maintain and deal with the things that come with money.”
Ollie summed up the premise of his new organization by saying, “OTE is designed to offer the world’s top prospects the development, education and economic empowerment to address these issues head-on.”
Ollie will work with Brandon Williams, OTE’s EVP and Head of Basketball Operations, to put together a 40-person staff that includes “assistant and skill development coaches, sports science and performance experts, trainers, scouts, counselors and advisors.” The teams will compete both against each other and against external prep and international competition.
Ollie played at UConn from 1991-95 before a 13-year career in the NBA, during which he was well-regarded for his leadership and mentoring. He retired from basketball in 2010 and joined Jim Calhoun’s staff as an assistant ahead of the 2010-11 season, where he helped the Huskies capture a national title.
After Calhoun retired in 2012, Ollie took over as head coach on an interim basis during a season in which UConn was banned from the postseason. The Huskies went 20-10 and Ollie received a five-year contract. The next season, he helped guide UConn to an improbable NCAA Tournament run as a 7-seed which ended with the program winning its fourth national title.
“I reached the pinnacle of my profession the next season, when I led our beloved Huskies to a national championship,” Ollie wrote.
While UConn made the NCAA Tournament under Ollie again in 2016, it quickly fell off after that, finishing below .500 each of the next two seasons.
UConn fired Ollie “for cause” at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season amid an investigation from the NCAA surrounding recruiting violations, impermissible workouts with a trainer, unsanctioned team activities during the summer, and a video coordinator handling the duties of a coach.
The school received relatively minor sanctions from the NCAA such as a two-year probation, the vacation of records from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, the reduction of one scholarship for 2019-20, a fine, and some recruiting restrictions. Ollie was hit with a three-year show-cause penalty for both the infractions and a failure to cooperate with the investigation, according to the NCAA.
Overtime was founded in 2016 as a sports media company and got on its feet thanks to an investment from former NBA commissioner David Stern. It gained popularity in 2017 by posting highlights of Zion Williamson in high school and also helped Paige Bueckers become a household name before arriving at UConn. Now, it claims to get over two billion views on its videos each month. The league begins in September.