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Volume 24 No. 219

Colleges

UConn contends Ollie isn’t owed any of the $10M guaranteed after being fired with just cause
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Higher education leaders in the Connecticut state legislature yesterday said that UConn "won’t receive any additional state resources if it is forced to pay" fired basketball coach Kevin Ollie the remaining $10M he is contractually owed, according to Kathleen Megan of the HARTFORD COURANT. Sen. Beth Bye, a co-Chair of the higher education committee, said, “We don’t have an extra $10 million. UConn doesn’t have it because they have been facing severe cuts and the state doesn’t have it." Megan notes UConn contends that Ollie "isn’t owed any" of the $10M guaranteed under his contract because the coach "was fired with 'just cause.'" However, if Ollie "successfully challenges his firing, UConn could have to pay" (HARTFORD COURANT, 3/13). The Hartford Courant's Chris Brodeur said there is a misconception that Ollie is "fighting to somehow continue to coach this team." But that is "not what's going on here," as he is just "looking to get as much of the $10.6 million that's owed to him as he possibly can." The Courant's Don Amore added UConn "only has so much money in their budget." Their revenue is "going to shrink," and right now it is "not meeting the cost in athletics." Now, they are "going to have to pay a double salary for a coach for the next three years if they're not able to make their 'just cause' stick" ("UConn Insider Podcast," Courant.com, 3/12).

CAUSE & EFFECT: In Connecticut, Chris Powell writes back-to-back losing seasons are "annoying but hardly constitute misconduct, and they are mitigated by Ollie's having won a national championship four years ago in his second year as coach." Even if some rules violation is found, would it "necessarily be a firing offense outside the context of two straight losing seasons?" Former UConn coach Jim Calhoun "got caught in some rules violations and the university gladly overlooked them." And if the school "already possesses documentation of what it considers Ollie's misconduct, it is improperly withholding public record" (Manchester JOURNAL INQUIRER, 3/13). The Courant's Amore noted UConn had NCAA infractions in '08, as well as APR issues, but Calhoun "was never fired for any of those things." Current AD David Benedict "was not there" at the time and overall, it is a different regime now, but there are "a lot of people around the country pointing out that UConn does look rather hypocritical here" ("UConn Insider Podcast," Courant.com, 3/12). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said if UConn is firing Ollie "for cause you better present a bill that says ‘these are the causes’ because you're going to try to deny him his money" ("PTI," ESPN, 3/12).

Fulmer said that he is not planning a major shakeup but that he wants to establish a different intensity
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Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer said he does not "want to put a number" on how long he will stay in the role, but it will be "long enough to do the job well and get a foundation here that I remember when I was here" as football coach, according to Blake Toppmeyer of the Knoxville NEWS SENTINEL. Fulmer took over for fired AD John Currie three months ago, and has "laid out four pillars for his athletic department: Communication, trust, warmth and intensity." Fulmer said, "Warmth is one of those things that we’ve been missing because everybody has been siloed here from different times because of the turmoil. And warmth means that I care about you, you care about me, we all care about the student-athletes." Toppmeyer noted Fulmer "believes stability is the top need within the department." Currie upon his hiring in early '17 "tapped Reid Sigmon to be his second-in-command as executive associate AD." Kurt Gulbrand and Janeen Lalik also "came aboard" at the Senior Associate AD level. The other members of the senior AD staff "are holdovers from past administrations." Fulmer said that he is "not planning a major shakeup but that he wants to establish a different intensity." Fulmer: "If you can’t be a part of the solution, that means you’re really part of the problem. That’s what we’re in a stage of right now. Do I expect a bunch of changes? No. Do I expect people to get in tune with what we’re trying to accomplish? Absolutely" (Knoxville NEWS SENTINEL, 3/11).