HARTFORD, Conn. – Kevin Ollie has signed a contract extension that would keep him in his seat as men’s head basketball coach at Connecticut through 2018, but Ollie said Saturday he is planning for a lifetime deal.
Prior to Saturday’s game against Washington at the XL Center, UConn held a press conference with Ollie and athletic director Warde Manuel to announce a new agreement that runs from Jan. 1, 2013 through April 15, 2018. The deal covers the remainder of this season and the next five seasons and will pay Ollie just over $6.9 million in salary compensation, public relations, consulting and media payments.
The deal begins with Ollie earning $1.2 million in 2013 - $400,000 in salary and $800,000 in the public relations payment, which includes $200,000 in Division of Athletics revenue from Nike.
Ollie, in his first season since replacing retired coach Jim Calhoun in September, was working on a previous deal that would have ended April 4, 2013.
“We’re going to do things well and we’re going to do them right here,” Ollie said during the pre-game press conference. “I’m not going here with a five-year contract. That’s what it says on the paper. But we are recruiting for a lifetime here. My coaching staff is going out on this beaten path and we’re going to recruit like we’re going to be here for 20, 25 years. The standard of excellence that we had at this university is going to continue.”
When Ollie walked onto the floor before Saturday night's game, the student section chanted his name, some fans stood and others applauded loudly in obvious recognition of the contract.
Manuel had received considerable criticism for the initial contract. The unusual deal was seen as a detriment to UConn’s recruiting effort, since Ollie could not tell recruits how long he would be coaching the Huskies.
Manuel confirmed Saturday that the first-semester academic performance of this season’s team played an important role in extending Ollie’s deal. Manuel called it a “great day in our history” and said he hopes Ollie will remain coach for “a very, very long time.”
“He just turned 40 on Thursday and I hope that he can have a storied career.” Manuel said. “Briefly, he has shown that he can coach, lead this team on the court and academically. He has been a great colleague; not only to me and to the assistant coaches, our head coaches, the student-athletes around, our fans and our donors. He is a great person. For those of you who know him well, he’s one of the best people that you will ever meet. He is a great husband. He is a great father. Finally, he is the epitome of a UConn Husky.”
Ollie has the opportunity to earn more than the $6,917,500 under the basic agreement through competition and academic performance payments and obligations. One of the key components, considering UConn’s current ban from the 2013 NCAA tournament, is stipulation regarding the Academic Progress Rate (APR). An annual APR for the men’s team above 930 will result in a $10,000 bonus. A four-year score of 930 or above will result in a one-time bonus of $50,000.
If the score falls below 930, Ollie will not receive payment of postseason competition bonuses and a financial sanction could be imposed.
If UConn reaches the Final Four, Ollie will receive one month annual base salary. That increases to two months of annual base salary with a national championship victory.
Ollie said he agreed to the APR language because he believes “in my system and my student-athletes.” From September through a 9-2 record heading into Saturday’s game, Ollie had said he wasn’t concerned about the contract situation, the impact it had on recruiting, or anything else out of his control.
Saturday, he said there was no reason to dwell on the past.
“We might have had some recruits go to other schools, but that always happens,” Ollie said. “I can’t control that. What I can control is we’re going to go out and get some great recruits. They’re going to come to a great university and get a great degree here and be able to perform in front of the greatest fans that a person can ever perform in front of and they’re going to also be around a great coaching staff that is going to nourish them, love them and is going to provide a support system, not only on the basketball court, but for life.”
Asked what he knows about Ollie now that he didn’t know in September, Manuel said, “The one thing nobody knew about Kevin was how he would be as the head coach. And what I saw in practice, before a game, and I saw when he has made adjustments at halftime, is that Kevin can coach. He can lead this team and put them in the right position to win on the court.
“Then I saw how he led off the court. How he led these young men as the student part of student-athlete. How he encouraged and talked to them about the importance of academics and life. Kevin’s belief is something you hear when you talk to somebody. But when you see it live out, it’s important. I saw that on a daily basis.”
In a statement issued through UConn, Calhoun said he feels good about the future of men's basketball program. Calhoun had lobbied for Ollie to be named UConn's coach-in-waiting before he decided to retire in September.
"I know Kevin will do a great job, as he already has, and I am looking forward to more success for the Huskies in years to come," Calhoun said.
Said UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma: "I am absolutely thrilled for Kevin and for UConn. Kevin stepped into a tough situation and has done a great job in all facets of the job. The UConn men's basketball program is in great hands with Kevin Ollie and I look forward to working with him for years to come."
The entire language of Ollie’s contract, more quotes and photos can be found here.