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UConn to fire Kevin Ollie for cause citing NCAA investigation

Connecticut v Arizona

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 21: Head coach Kevin Ollie of the Connecticut Huskies reacts during the first half of the college basketball game against the Arizona Wildcats at McKale Center on December 21, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Huskies 73-58. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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UConn confirmed on Saturday morning that they have “initiated disciplinary procedures to terminate the employment of Kevin Ollie for just cause.”

The UConn men’s basketball program is currently being investigated by the NCAA for rules violations involving their recruiting. Ollie is owed the remainder of his contract, which was worth roughly $3.5 million per year for the next three years, but his contract states that if he is fired for cause, the Huskies can get out from underneath that guaranteed money.

Ollie is a UConn alum that has spent six seasons as the head coach at his alma mater. He reached two NCAA tournaments in those six years, including 2014, when he helped coach Shabazz Napier to the a national title. They reached the NCAA tournament in 2016 as well, but needed Jaylen Adams to make an 80-foot three to avoid missing out on the tournament that year.

In the last two seasons, UConn was under .500, the first time since 1987, Jim Calhoun’s first season in Storrs, that they managed that accomplishment.

The name to watch here as a replacement is Rhode Island head coach Danny Hurley, according to multiple industry sources. Hurley was hired by URI the same season that Ollie was hired by UConn, and while he has not had the same amount of success in the NCAA tournament as Ollie, Hurley has led URI to as many NCAA tournaments in the last six seasons as Ollie has UConn. Hurley will also be a target for Pitt.

It’s also probably worth noting here that former UConn coach Jim Calhoun has gotten back into the coaching game. He’s currently the coach at a start-up Division III program in Connecticut. If Hurley says no and UConn opts not to bring Calhoun back, some other names that could make sense would be South Carolina’s Frank Martin, who spent time coaching in Boston, and native New Englander Bruce Pearl, who was hired at Auburn by the current UConn athletic director David Benedict.

Just how good of a job is UConn? It’s probably not quite as good as it appeared to be under Jim Calhoun but this is still a program that has won two of the last seven national titles and four national titles in the last 20 seasons. They are the only school to do both of those things.