Former UConn men's basketball head coach Ollie threatening to sue school

Published on Thursday, 28 June 2018 14:46


Divorces are often messy, and former UConn men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie’s separation from the Huskies just got messier.

Ollie is threatening to sue his alma mater and former employer for defamation and invasion of privacy. He, through his attorney, is demanding UConn issue a retraction for accusations that were included in the 1,355 pages that were released to several media outlets last week as part of numerous Freedom of Information requests.

Those documents, which summarize interviews done by the NCAA and UConn as they investigated the Husky men’s basketball program, include one unsubstantiated, second-hand story by a former UConn assistant coach that Ollie gave a large cash payment to the parent of a player.

Ollie’s lawyer, Jacques Parenteau, sent a letter to UConn President Susan Herbst on Tuesday, a copy of which was obtained by the Journal Inquirer and other news organizations Wednesday.

Parenteau says that UConn should have alerted Ollie that certain information was about to be released to the news media.

“There was no need to release the confidential transcripts to Coach Ollie in an FOI response since the AAUP (American Association of University Professors) already had been provided with them months earlier,” a statement released Wednesday from the New London-based firm of Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau read. “When the news organizations made the FOI request, the FOI statute required UConn to notify Coach Ollie that his right to privacy was implicated. The FOI statute states if Coach Ollie objects then UConn cannot release the information.

“All of the FOI releases occurred simultaneously, long after the requests were made. Had we been informed of the intention to release these false and defamatory claims, Coach Ollie would have objected to this invasion of his privacy. There is no excuse for UConn’s failure to notify Coach Ollie of their intention to violated (sic) his privacy interest.”

A UConn spokeswoman denied Thursday that the school did anything improper in releasing the files.

“UConn released the documents in direct response to a Freedom of Information request by Mr. Ollie’s own attorneys,” UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said in a statement. “Other parties, including the media, also requested and received these same documents as required by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in Connecticut. The FOIA, which governs public agencies as the University, does not permit the selective release of public records to certain parties while denying those same records to others.”

Glen Miller was an assistant coach at UConn when Ollie began his collegiate career with the Huskies. And after stints as a head coach at Connecticut College, Brown and Penn, Miller returned to the Huskies as an assistant under Jim Calhoun.

He remained on the staff in 2012 when Ollie was named head coach. But the two had a falling out of sorts, leading to Miller’s firing by Ollie after the 2016-17 season.

Miller’s testimony to NCAA investigators included a story he heard from his wife about Ollie delivering cash to the mother of a player at the Nathan Hale Inn on the UConn campus.

“One of the confidential NCAA interview transcripts contained former Assistant Coach Glen Miller’s false claim that (according to Glen Miller’s wife) Coach Ollie paid the sum of $30,000 to the mother of a student athlete as moving expenses to persuade the student athlete to attend the University of Connecticut,” Parenteau wrote to Herbst. “This false and defamatory claim was released without prior notice to Coach Ollie.”

Neither Herbst nor UConn Athletic Director David Benedict mention the $30,000 payment in letters to Ollie informing the coach of their decision to uphold his firing.

That the information was released as part of the FOI requests anyway is a “reckless disregard of the truth” according to Parenteau.

Ollie was fired March 10, just after the Huskies completed a second straight losing season. But Ollie was not dismissed for his win-loss record, the school insists, but with “just cause” for violations of NCAA rules.

The primary violations UConn cited in dismissing Ollie and that stemmed from an NCAA investigation were that he shot baskets with a recruit on an official visit, arranged a FaceTime call with UConn great Ray Allen for another recruit during an official visit, and that he arranged for free-of-charge offseason workouts with a personal trainer who was a friend of his.

Ollie is appealing his firing and seeking the remainder of some $10 million left on his contract. Both Benedict and Herbst have denied his appeals, and the two sides are headed to arbitration.

Posted in New Britain Herald, UConn on Thursday, 28 June 2018 14:46. Updated: Thursday, 28 June 2018 14:49.