After all that, Jim Calhoun has decided to retire. NBCConnecticut.com broke the news Wednesday and now, after more than a quarter-century in Storrs, the 70-year-old coach is finally calling it quits. There will be a news conference Thursday at 2 p.m. Assistant Kevin Ollie and the school released a statement saying Ollie will be Calhoun's replacement.
Ollie will have a contract that runs through April 4, 2013, and will be paid $625,000 per year.
“I am very honored and humbled to become the UConn men’s basketball coach,” Ollie said in a statement. “I cannot put into words how grateful I am to Coach Jim Calhoun, who retires today as one of the most legendary coaches in the history of college basketball. Coach Calhoun brought me here to Connecticut as a person right out of high school and has mentored me into the person I have become today."
He will be the 18th head coach in the history of the UConn program and only the fourth since the 1969-70 season.
There will no doubt be questions about the timing of the decision, so close to the start of the season. The skeptic might think this is Calhoun's way of making sure his guy -- Ollie -- was best-positioned to succeed him. But sources told NBCConnecticut that 'Calhoun's health, and pressure from his wife, Pat, were most likely the reasons behind Calhoun's decision."
And then there's this, from ESPN's Andy Katz:
A source close to Calhoun told ESPN.com that the Hall of Fame coach has had a lot of time to think about his retirement during the past month. Calhoun fractured his hip in early August after falling off his bicycle.
Calhoun told ESPN.com this past summer that whenever he retired, he would mimic Dean Smith's plan of waiting right until the start of the season. Smith ended his tenure at North Carolina prior to the 1996-97 season, when UNC named longtime assistant Bill Guthridge as his successor.
Worth remembering about Smith's situation: when he left, his long-time assistant, Bill Guthridge got the gig. Guthridge retired a few years later and so began the Matt Doherty debacle. Our point: maybe the Dean Smith model isn't the best.
Whatever, this is now Ollie's team. And despite claims by athletic director Warde Manuel that there would be no coach-in-waiting situation if Calhoun decided to retire, that's exactly what appears to have happened. Calhoun got what he wanted and now he's riding off into the sunset. Given what he's done for this university and this basketball program, maybe he's earned that right. We're sure others will disagree.
Ollie is a native of Los Angeles and a graduate of UConn who played 13 seasons in the NBA, completing his career in 2009-10 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He played for 11 different franchises in his NBA career, playing in 662 career contests.
Ollie was a two-time team captain at UConn and helped lead the Huskies to BIG EAST Regular Season Championships in 1993-94 and 1994-95, advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, respectively, in those seasons. Ollie was an All-BIG EAST Third Team selection as a senior in 1994-95 and was named to the UConn Basketball All-Century Team in 2001. He still stands No. 3 all-time at UConn in assists and No. 1 at UConn in assists in BIG EAST contests.
He and his wife, Stephanie, have a son, Jalen, and daughter, Cheyenne.