Kevin Ollie Contesting UConn's Decision To Fire Him For Cause
Recently fired UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie is "set to have a hearing" with AD David Benedict "within the next two weeks" over the remaining $10M on his contract, according to a front-page piece by Dom Amore of the HARTFORD COURANT. UConn announced Saturday morning it had "initiated disciplinary procedures to terminate" Ollie's employment for "just cause." The men's basketball program is the "subject of an NCAA investigation, the findings of which have not been released." Ollie is signed through '21 at more than $3M per year; if he is "fired for just cause, the university would not have to pay." If just cause "cannot be established, Ollie would have to be paid in full, unless a settlement is reached." Ollie late Saturday released a statement "indicating he would contest UConn's decision." After going 97-44 with a national championship in Ollie's first four years, UConn is 30-35 in the past two seasons. In January, the school "acknowledged the NCAA was conducting an inquiry into the program, which was not connected to the wide-ranging FBI fraud and bribery probe which has enveloped college basketball this season" (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/12). : ESPN’s Jeff Goodman said of UConn firing Ollie, “They don’t want to pay him. That’s the big thing. They want him out." More Goodman: "Recently, I was told that the school interviewed all the current players, they sat down with them, and this is something, again -- they owe him $10 million and they don't want to pay him." Goodman said it is Benedict who "wants to make the change” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 3/10).
ANOTHER CASE: In Pittsburgh, Jerry DiPaola noted lawyers for recently fired Pitt men's basketball coach Kevin Stallings on Friday released a statement stating that Stallings is "owed his full contractual buyout, and reports that schools officials have offered" $7.5M are "untrue." K.C.-based Tompsett Collegiate Sports Law attorneys Scott Tompsett and Jim Lieber in the statement said, "The actual number offered is far less. It is our position that coach Stallings is due and owed his full contractual buyout." Tompsett and Lieber went on to say in the statement that they "vehemently disagree with reports from unnamed sources that Pitt has cause to terminate coach Stalling's contract for cause based on comments coach Stallings made at Louisville over two months ago," when he was seen yelling at fans behind the Pitt bench (TRIBLIVE.com, 3/9).
NOT FOOLING ANYONE: USA TODAY's Dan Wolken wrote the "bigger theme emerging" from this cycle of coach firings is the "blatant attempt by some schools to wiggle out of hefty buyouts." This is now a "strategy for schools looking for a cheaper way out of their basketball problems: Fire a coach 'for cause,' concoct a set of issues that purport to show how the coach violated his contract, then wait for the lawsuit to come so that negotiations on a new buyout number can begin before the depositions." Nobody is "fooled by what Pittsburgh and UConn are trying to do." Sources said that there is "already talk about potential changes to how contracts will be drawn up thanks to UConn and Pitt trying to get cute" (USATODAY.com, 3/10).