UConn’s New Contract With Ollie Ends Academic Performance ClauseEben Novy-Williams
University of Connecticut basketball coach Kevin Ollie no longer has to worry about players meeting minimum academic standards to collect his bonuses for their success on the court.
The Huskies won the national title in April, one year after serving a postseason ban for poor academic performance.
Ollie’s previous contract, a five-year deal signed last October, stated that he wouldn’t receive basketball bonuses unless the team’s academic performance met the “recognized acceptable standard” set forth by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. That clause wasn’t included in the coach’s new five-year, $15 million contract.
In response to requests to speak with school President Susan Herbst, Athletic Director Warde Manuel and Ollie, UConn athletics spokesman Mike Enright said in an e-mail that the university doesn’t comment on contract negotiations and therefore the three “are not allowed to comment.”
Announced last week and effective June 1, Ollie’s new agreement more than doubles his guaranteed pay and includes a maximum of $316,666 in on-court bonuses.
The contract raised the coach’s guaranteed compensation to $2.8 million next season from $1.25 million last season and added $66,666 in NCAA tournament incentives.
Ollie’s previous agreement, obtained by Bloomberg News through open records requests, included a requirement that he donate $100,000 to the University of Connecticut Foundation General Scholarship Fund if the team’s Academic Progress Rate fell below the acceptable standard, set at 930 in 2013-14, for two consecutive years. That clause remains in his new deal.
“Kevin has accomplished a great deal during his first two seasons as our head coach both on and off the court,” Manuel said in an e-mailed statement when the contract was announced. “I am very excited about the future of our program.”
The Huskies won the NCAA title last month with a 60-54 victory over Kentucky. Ollie earned $166,666 in basketball bonuses during the run for the school’s fourth national title since 1999.
Those bonuses were not guaranteed until two weeks ago, when the NCAA released APR scores for the 2012-13 academic year. The Huskies scored a perfect 1,000, bringing their four-year average to 936.
“It’s the student-athletes who have sacrificed to uphold the standards we have set at UConn and done such a terrific job,” Ollie, 41, said when the contract was announced. “It’s a humbling experience to be around the UConn fans and the UConn family and to know that I am their basketball coach for the foreseeable future. I’m very proud of that.”
ESPN reported last week that at least two National Basketball Association teams were interested in speaking with Ollie about their vacancies.
Article 13.3 of Ollie’s old contract stated that his basketball bonuses would be paid “only in the event that the annual APR for the men’s basketball team has been satisfactorily met.”
Of the four coaches in the NCAA semifinals this year, including Kentucky’s John Calipari, Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan and Florida’s Billy Donovan, Ollie was the only coach with such language in his contract. All the contracts were obtained through open records requests.
The APR “holds Division I institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes,” according to the NCAA website. The metric is based on the eligibility and retention of each athlete, each semester.
During the 2013-14 academic year, teams needed to maintain a minimum 900 four-year APR or a 930 over the previous two years to be eligible to participate in NCAA championships. Next year, those thresholds will be raised to 930 and 940.
UConn was banned from the 2013 NCAA tournament after the team’s four-year APR score fell below 900. Manuel said at the time that a change in the NCAA’s legislation for penalties gave schools too little time to adjust to the new requirements.
The UConn basketball team had a loss of $1.15 million on $7.29 million in expenses in the year through June, according to data on the U.S. Department of Education website. That was the third-largest deficit in the country.