An independent arbitrator ruled the University of Connecticut (UConn) improperly fired former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie and must pay him more than $11 million.
According to ESPN, Ollie’s attorney Jacques Parenteau called the ruling by arbitrator Mark Irvings a “total vindication” for the coach, who was fired in 2018 after the university reported numerous NCAA violations in UConn’s basketball program.
The Huskies were placed on probation for two years for violations. Ollie was sanctioned individually for the violations, which occurred between 2013 and 2018.
Irvings ruled UConn must pay Ollie $11,157,032.95 within 10 business days.
Parenteau said the arbitrator’s ruling shows the NCAA sanctions were “erroneous and unfounded.”
“This arbitration clearly established—after 33 days of hearings and the testimony and cross examination of actual witnesses under oath–that Kevin Ollie did not violate the NCAA rules that were used to justify the draconian sanctions imposed on him,” Parenteau and co-counsel William Madsen said in a statement, according to ESPN. “The arbitrator correctly found that there was no just cause to terminate Kevin Ollie’s employment as the head coach of an NCAA basketball team.”
UConn officials said the ruling only stated that the school should have waited for the NCAA’s decision before firing Ollie and that it strongly disagrees with the arbitrator’s decision, adding it did not have “the luxury of waiting more than a year before terminating the coach for the misconduct the university was aware he had engaged in.”
“The arbitrator’s decision is nonsensical and seriously impedes the university’s ability to manage its athletics program,” UConn said in a statement. “It also sends a signal to other coaches in Connecticut that they may ignore NCAA rules with impunity and continue to be employed and paid.”
Ollie played at UConn from 1991-95 before spending 13 years in the NBA. Ollie retired in 2010 and joined the UConn coaching staff as an assistant in 2012. After the retirement of Jim Calhoun in 2013, Ollie took over as head coach.
In 2014, his second season as coach, Ollie led the Huskies to a 31-8 record and the national championship. In six seasons as UConn’s coach, Ollie led the Huskies to a 127-79 record.