The NCAA Committee on Infractions ruled Tuesday to effectively ban former UConn coach Kevin Ollie from college athletics for three years -- but did not levy significantly damaging sanctions on the men's basketball program.
The COI announced that Ollie "violated NCAA head coach responsibility rules when he failed to monitor his staff and did not promote an atmosphere of compliance." Some of the violations in question were Level III in nature (Level I being the most egregious). A show-cause penalty for lower-level offenses is unusual; Ollie's three-year show-cause ruling was prompted, in large part, due to him supposedly deceiving NCAA investigators and additionally opting out of being interviewed a second time by enforcement staffers.
It was Ollie's behavior and obfuscation with the COI that led to a Level I tag against him, which brought on the worst of his punishments. On a media call Tuesday, COI chief hearing officer Joel Maturi said the committee had the option of 3-10 years for Ollie's show-cause order.
"This case illustrates the importance of full candor and cooperation in the infractions process, as well as head coach control," the NCAA's statement reads. "The former head coach faltered in both respects, increasing the severity of his violations and allowing violations within the program to occur for most of his tenure."
Ollie was accused of overseeing a program that enabled and/or allowed official pickup games that exceeded NCAA quotas; effectively employed a video coordinator in a coaching role; and had "a booster providing extra benefits to student-athletes."
The NCAA's infractions decision -- the full report -- can be read here. Maturi also confirmed that UConn's 2014 national championship is not subject to vacation; the seasons whose wins are in jeopardy are 2016-17 and 2017-18 because the violations that took place with three UConn players happened in the spring and summer of 2016.
In terms of punishments, there are plenty. Here's what the NCAA dished out on Ollie and UConn:
- Two years of probation for the men's basketball program.
- A three-year show-cause sanction for Ollie.
- Elimination/vacation of records for games in which certain UConn players played, but have retroactively been deemed ineligible.
- Reduction of one scholarship, from 13 to 12, for the upcoming 2019-20 season. (UConn self-imposed this penalty.)
- A $5,000 fine (UConn self-imposed).
- Recruiting limitations: one-week ban for unofficial visits and any kind of digital or phone communication toward recruits in 2018-19 (already imposed by UConn) and a two-week ban on unofficial visits for the upcoming season; four fewer recruiting days in 2018-19 and 2019-20; and "a one-visit reduction from the permissible number of official visits in men's basketball during the rolling 2018-19 and 2019-20 two-year period."
All told, it's worse for Ollie than for UConn, which will be dinged by this but is still.
The pickup games in question -- seemingly innocuous -- nevertheless violated NCAA rules because they drifted into the territory of being organized ("countable" in NCAA parlance) basketball activities that went unreported by Ollie and his staff. Within this activity, the former video coordinator (listed as David Sevush on UConn's website) essentially took on the duties of a coach.
The NCAA also hit Ollie and UConn over the fact that a friend of Ollie's "became a booster of the university, gave free on- and off-campus training sessions to three student-athletes." The training included flights, food and free lodging. According to the NCAA, Ollie knew of this but lied to investigators over the particulars of what he knew and when he knew it.
The NCAA's account of what happened at UConn and how Ollie opted to answer -- or not answer -- questions is what ultimately led to him being pinned hard by the COI.
"During his interview with the enforcement staff and school, the former head coach also denied planning or arranging a video call between a prospect and a former professional basketball player, but the committee noted there was substantial information in the record that demonstrated that the head coach did in fact plan and arrange the call," the NCAA said.
Ollie's lawyer put out this statement:
Further complicating matters for Ollie: he's been embattled with his alma mater over the matter of the money he believes he's owed in light of his firing. UConn's stance is that it fired Ollie in 2018 for just cause, which would nullify his buyout, approximately $10 million of which is in dispute.
The university self-imposing sanctions, in addition to further (minor) punishments being leveled against the Huskies, could prevent Ollie from receiving most if not all of the money that was left on his contract when he was fired.
The self-imposed sanctions put on by UConn trigger an extra year on current coach Dan Hurley's contract. A source told CBS Sports that Hurley only recently signed his longform contract in June, which covered all the particulars of his employment and potential bonuses, buyouts and escape clauses relating to Ollie-era infractions. Hurley's deal now goes through the 2024-25 season. He currently makes approximately $2.8 million annually.
UConn and Ollie each have the option to fight any and all charges and offer official retorts to the NCAA in the ensuing 45 days.