Before signing top high school talent, Overtime Elite just inked a deal with 13-year NBA player and NCAA championship coach Kevin Ollie.
“I’m ready to get back to what I was born to do: empowering and encouraging and supporting young people, and helping them grow,” Ollie said in a statement. “There’s no better place for me to do that than OTE, an extraordinary league for extraordinary young men. I consider it my mission to help these elite athletes realize their dreams.”
Ollie is one of four Black head coaches to win the NCAA men’s basketball championship (John Thompson, Nolan Richardson, Tubby Smith the others). He did so with the UConn Huskies in 2014 but was fired in 2018 for “just cause” by the school after NCAA violations surfaced.
The coach later filed a suit against the school to recover $10 million worth of back pay. That dispute is still in arbitration.
But this fall, he will return to the sidelines after a three-year hiatus.
In an op-ed with The Athletic, Ollie spoke about his desire to change the way young ball players are compensated and educated. It’s a mission he shares with the new league.
“In basketball circles, there has been a lot of talk over the years about revamping a broken system,” he 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.”
According to Ollie, OTE will change all of that.
In addition to paying high-school hoopers six-figure salaries, OTE will provide health benefits, allow athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness, and give players equity in Overtime, the digital media company. The teens will also receive a high school diploma and have the opportunity to take courses in financial literacy, media training, and social justice advocacy, things Ollie learned by himself when he got to the NBA, where he played 13 seasons.
Last month, Deadspin wondered if OTE was really the “amateur” sports gamechanger we’ve been waiting for. Ollie’s hiring certainly helps answer the question. But we’ll wait and see when the league actually tips off in the fall.
“There is no better fit as coach for what we’re trying to accomplish than Kevin Ollie,” said OTE Commissioner and President Aaron Ryan. “Kevin’s resume speaks for itself... 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.”