HARTFORD, Conn. – UConn’s men’s basketball program has been placed on probation for two years and former coach Kevin Ollie has been sanctioned individually for violations of NCAA rules during his tenure.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions on Tuesday outlined numerous violations, most occurring between 2013 and 2018, and cited Ollie for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
The NCAA agreed with penalties UConn self-imposed in January, including the loss of one scholarship for the 2019-20 season, and did not impose any postseason ban.
“As we anticipated, this validates UConn’s actions and decision-making in this case from the outset in early 2018 based on our knowledge of NCAA rules and matters of compliance,” UConn President Susan Herbst said. “However, this is a serious matter and nothing about it merits celebration. This is an unfortunate chapter in the history of UConn men’s basketball, but it is time to move on. We look forward to the bright future of this program with excitement and optimism.”
UConn fired Ollie in March 2018. The school and Ollie are in arbitration regarding more than $10 million, which the coach says he is owed but the school says he is not entitled to because the violations occurred under his watch.
In addition to probation, the NCAA issued a three-year show-cause order for the former head coach. That means that any NCAA member school that might hire him must restrict him from any athletically related duties unless it shows why those restrictions should not apply.
Ollie’s attorney, Jacques Parenteau said the investigators unfairly sided with the university’s version of events over Ollie’s and that he would appeal the sanctions.
“In the final analysis, the NCAA process does not constitute due process,” he said. “Coach Ollie remains confident that when the witnesses against him are cross-examined in the arbitration process, the truth will come out.”
The Committee on Infractions said the violations mainly stemmed from improper pickup games at which student managers kept statistics for coaches, the use of a video coordinator as a coach, which resulted in more than the allowable number of coaches, and free training sessions provided to three players by a trainer who was friends with Ollie.
The NCAA says UConn has 45 days to provide an account of all games in which ineligible athletes participated and any wins during that time would be vacated.
Chief hearing officer Joel Maturi said those violations occurred in 2016 and vacating those games will have no effect on UConn’s 2014 national championship. The order to vacate is expected to include all games in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
Shortly after firing Ollie, the school released 1,300 pages of documents detailing potential violations. The school said because the firing was “for cause,” it did not have to pay the coach the remaining money in his contract. Ollie filed an internal grievance seeking that money, which has led to arbitration.
The NCAA sent the school a notice last September detailing allegations that included unethical conduct by Ollie, who it said provided false or misleading information about video calls to a recruit from two former UConn stars, Hall of Famer Ray Allen and San Antonio Spurs guard Rudy Gay.
The NCAA committee characterized the violations as “a severe breach of conduct” and slammed Ollie in its report , saying he failed to monitor his staff or otherwise stop and prevent violations.
“Making matters worse, he was not entirely forthcoming in his interview during the investigation when questioned about his knowledge of and involvement in some of the violations,” the committee wrote. “He then failed to cooperate when he declined to participate in a second interview after his termination from Connecticut.”
Coach Dan Hurley told reporters on Monday that he was hoping to move forward “and kind of put this small chapter in UConn basketball that hasn’t been ideal behind us and get a fresh start with everything that has been swirling and circulating.”
In addition to reducing scholarships next season from 13 to 12, sanctions include:
- A one-week ban on unofficial visits during the 2018-2019 academic year and a two-year ban in 2019-20.
- A one-week ban on recruiting communications during the current academic year
- A $5,000 fine.
- A one-visit reduction from the permissible number of official visits in men’s basketball during the rolling 2018-19 and 2019-20 two-year period.
- A reduction from 130 to 126 the number of allowable recruiting days
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