Kevin Ollie is the next UConn men’s basketball coach. This time, the title is permanent.
UConn announced Saturday that Ollie, who accepted a seven-month contract on Sept. 13, had received a five-year extension through April, 2018. The deal is worth an excess of $7 million.
“We’re going to do things well, and we’re going to do them properly,” Ollie said. “I’m not coming here with a five-year contract. That’s what it says on the paper, but we’re recruiting for a lifetime here. We’re going to recruit like we’re going to be here for 20, 25 years.”
Under Ollie’s leadership, UConn has jumped out to a 9-2 record, including a season-opening upset over then-No. 14 Michigan State. Athletic director Warde Manuel needed just three and a half months to arrive at a decision.
“It was time,” Manuel said. “I always said to you guys when you asked me the questions about when I’m going to make the decision, I said ‘I’m going to talk to Kevin and he’s going to be the first to know.’ But I believe that, for the long-term, that he was going to be the right fit for our program. And at that moment I felt it, there’s no need to wait.”
In addition to UConn’s play on the court, its first semester classroom performance was vital to the extension.
“I think the timing of today was about seeing what the student-athletes did under his leadership academically,” Manuel said. “Obviously it was very, very important in general and very important for where the program is right now.”
UConn, which is banned from the 2013 postseason because of a low academic progress rating (APR), has made a strong push to improve academics since Manuel arrived in March. As a result, Ollie’s contract is heavy on APR language: In the event that UConn scores below the NCAA standard of 930 in a given year, Ollie will forfeit any postseason bonuses. Two consecutive years of a sub-930 score could result in suspension or termination of employment with just cause, according to the contract. Ollie can also receive bonuses for good academic performance.
“I have a belief in my student-athletes,” Ollie said. “We’re students first, and we’re going to get it done. We’re going to get the right kids in here, and I believe, with the support system we have, we can cultivate a great learning experience for our guys.”
UConn hosts Washington (8-4) tonight at the XL Center at 7:30.