Kevin Ollie was named as Jim Calhoun's replacement Thursday.
Jim Calhoun was too stubborn to show any emotion in his farewell press conference Thursday but that might be because he's not really going anywhere. Sure, he has stepped down as UConn's basketball coach after arriving in Storrs in 1986 but he'll still be associated with the university and affiliated with the team. According to the university, Calhoun will become a Special Assistant to Athletic Director Warde Manuel as part of a transition agreement. The Hall of Fame coach will remain in that role until March, 12, 2013. When Calhoun retires from that position, he will become Head Coach Emeritus, according to UConn.
This is noteworthy because Calhoun's hand-picked successor, Kevin Ollie, will be UConn's coach until April 4, 2013. Manuel had said previously that there wouldn't be a coach-in-waiting situation at UConn so it will be interesting to see how this unfolds in the coming months. For now Ollie, who has been on UConn's staff for a couple of years after playing for Calhoun in the early '90s, spoke with great respect about the job he just inherited.
"I am very honored and humbled to become the UConn men's basketball coach," he said. "I cannot put in 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.
"I am also extremely grateful to President Susan Herbst and Director of Athletics Warde Manuel for providing me with this opportunity. I look forward working with Warde to continue the success of our men's basketball program."
While Manuel may not like the idea of Calhoun naming his successor, the athletic director spoke glowingly of Ollie.
"Since I have come to UConn, I have spent a tremendous amount of time with Kevin and I have enjoyed getting to know him," Manuel said. "He is a quality person and I have been impressed with the way he interacts with our student-athletes on and off the court. Kevin knows the Husky program from his experiences as a student-athlete, a professional basketball player and an assistant coach here at UConn. He has taken the steps to prepare him for this opportunity and I am proud to name him as our head men's basketball coach."
And that's the thing: should Ollie have success next season when expectations are already low because of the defection of five players and the impending postseason sanctions, it'll be hard for Manuel to justify going in another direction. Then again, the Calhoun era is officially over and Manuel may want to put his own stamp on the athletic department. But that's a conversation for another day. On Thursday, it was about a changing of the guard even if Calhoun technically isn't going anywhere.