One-hundred six days after Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun retired and Kevin Ollie was named interim coach, and 47 days after Ollie recorded his first win, the University has rewarded him with a five-year contract. ESPN.com's Andy Katz first reported the news.
Ollie, a former player for Calhoun in the mid-1990s, had originally been signed through the spring. The uncertainty -- coupled with UConn being ineligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament because of low Academic Progress Rates -- made it difficult to compete with other high-profile programs for top recruits. Now the 40-year-old coach can devote his focus to all things basketball without having to worry about his future.
We've written previously that it was in everyone's best interest for the school to sign Ollie as soon as possible.
“I think the world of Kevin,” Connecticut athletic director Warde Manuel told the New York Times in November. “I love what I see. But I want to continue to watch him and watch the team. At the appropriate time, I’ll make a decision.”
Our response from a December 17 post:
The problem with that thinking: recruits don't want to hear that "I may or may not have my contract extended at some point in the foreseeable future" from a prospective college coach. Especially when the Rick Pitinos and Jim Boeheims of the world aren't going anywhere.
Not only that, but the university isn't exactly in a leveraged position. With all the upheaval going on in the Big East and beyond, the basketball program is one of UConn's few bargaining chips. If Manuel drags his feet, whose to say the Huskies would be able to land a high-profile coach anyway?
That's no longer a problem; UConn landed the best man for the job and the basketball team gets a late Christmas present.
Last week, Ollie admitted that “I care about (it) because you’d like to have a contract,” he said, “but I’m not losing sleep over it. … These kids are giving me their all. They’re working and playing for me like I’m going to be here forever and I’m doing the same thing.”
Now the 9-2 Huskies can worry about the upcoming Big East schedule, which begins in earnest on Jan. 1 against Marquette.