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Kevin Ollie wins arbitration case against UConn

The former UConn men’s basketball head coach will receive $11.2 million from the school.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Former UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie won his arbitration case against the school and is now owed $11.2 million, according to Hearst CT’s Dave Borges. UConn will have 10 business days to provide Ollie with the money.

When the school fired Ollie in 2018, they cited “just cause” to avoid paying his buyout of over $11 million. Even though the move was expected after the program bottomed out with back-to-back sub-.500 seasons under Ollie, UConn named recent NCAA violations as its reasoning for the “just cause” firing.

An NCAA investigation found Ollie and his staff committed recruiting violations — in one case, a video of Ollie shooting baskets with then-recruit James Akinjo surfaced —allowed players to participate in impermissible workouts with a trainer, held unsanctioned team activities during the summer, and allowed a video coordinator to handle the duties of a coach.

While none of the infractions were major, UConn self-imposed sanctions and the NCAA put the school on probation for two years, vacated all games from the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, and also handed down recruiting restrictions. Ollie received a three-year show-cause penalty, mostly because he failed to properly cooperate with the NCAA’s investigation.

The Division I Committee on Infractions said Ollie “violated NCAA head coach responsibility rules when he failed to monitor his staff and did not promote an atmosphere of compliance,” ruling that he lied or provided misleading information to investigators and declined a second interview with the NCAA and UConn.

“This case illustrates the importance of full candor and cooperation in the infractions process, as well as head coach control,” the committee said at the time. “The former head coach faltered in both respects, increasing the severity of his violations and allowing violations within the program to occur for most of his tenure.”

Ultimately, arbitrator Mark Irvings ruled that UConn violated the collective bargaining agreement with the AAUP — a faculty union in which Ollie was a part of — when it fired the coach for cause.

Ollie is currently the head coach and director of player development of Overtime Elite, an alternative basketball league for elite prospects between 16 and 18 in which the athletes are paid at least $100,000 per year along with “bonuses and equity.”