A week after the University of Connecticut justified its decision to fire Kevin Ollie in March for “just cause,” the former men’s basketball coach threatened to sue to the school for defamation and invasion of privacy.
Ollie’s lawyers sent a letter to UConn President Susan Herbst on Tuesday, seeking a retraction from the school related to documents released in connection with an NCAA investigation, the Hartford Courant and ESPN reported Wednesday.
UConn’s investigation into Ollie’s program concluded that he violated NCAA rules, giving the school the right to terminate his contract with “just cause,” overriding a buyout clause of almost $10 million.
Per the Courant, the school released 1,355 pages of documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. Within that paperwork were quotes from an interview that saw ex-associate head coach Glen Miller say Ollie arranged for $30,000 for a player’s mother to help her move to Connecticut.
“(UConn) widely published defamatory information concerning coach Kevin Ollie,” Ollie’s lawyers wrote in the letter to Herbst, per the Courant and ESPN, “when it provided un-redacted copies of confidential NCAA interview transcripts to news reporters pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request. One of the ... transcripts contained (Miller’s) false claim. ... The false and defamatory claim was released without prior notice to coach Ollie and no attempt was made by the University of Connecticut to protect Coach Ollie from this false and defamatory claim, or to disavow it.”
The school responded in a statement to the two news outlets, “UConn released the documents in direct response to a Freedom of Information request by Mr. Ollie’s own attorneys. Other parties, including the media, also requested and received these same documents as required by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in Connecticut. The FOIA, which governs public agencies such as the University, does not permit the selective release of public records to certain parties while denying those same records to others.”
Ollie’s contract had been extended to run through 2021 before he was fired.
Ollie replaced Jim Calhoun in 2012 and two years later led the Huskies to the national championship. However, UConn went 14-18 last season, winding up below .500 for the second year in a row. The Huskies’ hadn’t endured consecutive losing seasons since they slumped from 1982-83 to 1986-87.
—Field Level Media