Former UConn coach Kevin Ollie is assembling for litigation against the university for what he and his legal team are claiming is improper termination.
UConn fired Ollie, who is also an alumnus of the school, on March 10 following a 14-18 season. His dismissal was also made amid an NCAA probe into potential recruiting violations. Any potential NCAA rule infringements made during Ollie's tenure have not been made public.
The firing, according to the University of Connecticut, was for cause. Because the school viewed the firing justifiable under the circumstances of an NCAA inquiry, Ollie's $10 million-plus buyout specified in his contract was not awarded to him.
So now a legal scuffle could well ensue.
According to ESPN, Ollie's representatives sent a letter to UConn president Susan Herbst on April 3 that states it "conclusively proves" that UConn acted outside proper parameters when it fired Ollie. That letter can be read here, courtesy of Connecticut's WTNH. Ollie's contention is that the school did not allow him to formally challenge UConn's decision, and because of that, his constitutional rights were violated.
"From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie's employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated Coach's [sic] Ollie's rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie's opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment," the letter reads.
The 14th Amendment encompasses due process, which Ollie believes Herbst and university administrators absconded from. Making the matter more interesting, Ollie is apparently part of a union that is abnormal to most college coaches. His involvement with this union could be the linchpin in his case against UConn.
Ollie is a member the University of Connecticut's branch of the American Association of University Professors, a union that represents thousands of faculty members around the country. The union's collective bargaining agreement demands a hearing process before any employee can be terminated for allegations of serious misconduct.
The process is supposed to begin with the employee receiving a letter outlining the reasons for his or her termination, a letter Ollie says he did not receive.
Last week, Ollie attended a hearing with athletic director David Benedict to appeal his termination for cause. Benedict maintained the school's stance that it had a right to fire Ollie with cause and not pay him.
This could be building to a lengthy, public, messy ordeal if UConn refuses to budge and Ollie winds up suing the school. Before that can happen, Ollie is due to meet with Herbst to further flesh out the matter, according to reports. From there, an arbitrator could step in and determine if Ollie was wronged or not.
"The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie's property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution," Ollie's letter reads.
UConn replaced Ollie with former Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley, who was introduced at an on-campus press conference on March 23. The university has not commented on Ollie's letter.
The timeline of the NCAA's exploration of UConn's program under Ollie is not known. The NCAA does not comment on such matters as they are ongoing, with the exception of official notifications that update a given case's status. UConn is yet to receive an official Notice of Allegations from the NCAA, which would be the thing that amplifies this situation and brings stronger backing to UConn's termination of Ollie's deal.
Without a Notice of Allegations, Ollie's case could strengthen.
All of this is an unpredictable turn for the 45-year-old Ollie, who coached the Huskies to a national title in 2014 and was a star at the school in the 1990s under Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun. Now this has turned into a bitter divorce. Given the way the past couple of months have played out, one source close to Ollie told CBS Sports recently that he never expected Ollie to coach in the college ranks again.
Ollie went 127-79 in six seasons. UConn is coming off consecutive losing seasons, the first time the program faced that since 1987.