Former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie has spent the last three months fighting UConn’s dubious claim that they fired him “for cause.” He’s trying to recover the $10 million the school thinks it no longer has to pay him because of the nature of his termination. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request, UConn recently released transcripts related to an NCAA investigation, which revealed that their justifications for Ollie’s firing and are, more or less, bullshit. The centerpiece of their case is an interview by former assistant and Jim Calhoun loyalist Glen Miller, who dropped bombs revealing that Ollie, uh, once called Ray Allen and also shot hoops with a potential recruit. Miller’s wife also alleged that a recruit’s mother told her Ollie paid $30,000 in living and moving expenses, though UConn is not pursuing that particular claim.
According to a report from ESPN’s Myron Medcalf, Ollie sent the school a letter yesterday threatening legal action for “defamation and invasion of privacy” over the contents of the NCAA transcripts. Ollie also demanded that they retract the transcripts since they are part of an active investigation. It is common for universities not to release such transcripts.
The $30,000 payment is a critical part of this. UConn did not cite it in its termination letter, and Ollie’s lawyers say UConn knew that the recruit’s mother denied any payment was but decided to release the transcripts anyway. At this point, a fight in court seems inevitable. From ESPN:
“This false and defamatory claim was released without prior notice to Coach Ollie and no attempt was made by the University of Connecticut to protect Coach Ollie from this false and defamatory claim or to disavow it,” says the letter from Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau, the law firm representing Ollie. “The release of the confidential transcripts was coordinated to coincide with the publication of the news that Coach Ollie’s employment was terminated by you on June 19, 2018.”
Even if the questionable testimony from Miller was included among the reasons why UConn fired Ollie, the sum of his transgressions would not match Calhoun’s, who UConn stood by through many scandals. If they wanted to fire Ollie because he went 30-35 over his last two seasons, that’s fine, but they should pay him what he’s owed.