Kevin Ollie on new UConn deal: 'I'm going to be here a long time'
The Huskies coach is saying all the right things. Will he wind up sticking around long-term, even if the NBA comes calling again?
Kevin Ollie's coaching arrangement has been intriguing and tough to determine from the very start. Right out of the NBA, he plunked down alongside Jim Calhoun as a UConn assistant.
Then Calhoun somewhat suddenly opted to retire in the late summer of 2012 after a bike accident, forcing UConn to make a hire at a pressed time. Ollie was always Calhoun's guy, so he got the gig -- but on an interim basis. That went on needlessly for a few months, until Ollie was ultimately given a deal midway through his first season with the Huskies.
Then he takes UConn to a national title in his second year, and with that achievement, naturally, the non-formal courtship from the NBA begins. But UConn kept its now-beloved man, and Ollie signed a five-year deal ultimately worth more than $15 million two weeks ago. We know he's a lock to coach the Huskies -- for at least one year.
Who knows what the coaching landscape will be like by next April, you know?
But Ollie, who prides himself on his word, told the Hartford Courant that he intends on staying for the duration of his new deal.
"It gives me security and the understanding I'm going to be here a long time," said Ollie, who signed a five-year contract on May 23. "There is going to be speculation every year, but the kids know I have their backs and their best interests at heart. I have a five-year contract and I believe I'm going to be here the whole five years."
After leading UConn to the national championship on April 7, Ollie became a hot coaching commodity, mentioned as a candidate for numerous NBA openings. The NBA, he said, had no allure for him right now.
"There's no place else I'd rather be," he said. "Questions about leaving [UConn], I kept telling you all the same things and you kept coming up with other questions. But I'm not going anywhere."
Pretty unconditional stuff from Ollie. In fact, it's very different from the way Florida coach/NBA target Billy Donovan chose to address his future recently. Donovan will not say he's definitely staying at Florida, even though he loves it there and might well retire from UF eventually. But the men are in two different spots. Donovan's a few years Older than Ollie, and he's spent 17 more years at his school -- and won one more title.
For Ollie, these words will boom across the state. Fans will remember them, and they'll believe him. To this point, they have no reason not to.
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