Friday, May 30, 2014

AAC Pledges Support for Full Cost of Attendance for Athletes

At last year's American Athletic Conference Media Day, commissioner Mike Aresco boldly stated: "We will not pay players."

Aresco did, however, say that he would consider stipends for student-athletes to help offset the rising costs of tuition. And it seems the AAC is even more firmly behind that idea now, at the end of its three-day annual meeting down in Florida.

This from the AAC:

The American Athletic Conference completed its Annual Meeting today after three days of sessions. Presidents, Athletic Directors, Senior Woman Administrators, Faculty Athletic Representatives, and head coaches for football and men’s and women’s basketball representing all 11 member institutions, and future football-only member Navy, were in attendance.

Following a joint session this morning with Presidents, Athletic Directors and Senior Woman Administrators, The American reinforced its support of NCAA Governance restructuring with the following statement:

“The student-athletes at our member institutions compete and succeed at the highest level and benefit from the significant investments we are making in our men’s and women’s athletic programs, including infrastructure and facilities. Our Conference enjoyed unprecedented success during our inaugural season, highlighted by UCF’s BCS Tostitos Fiesta Bowl victory and UConn’s NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. We established ourselves as one of the premier conferences in America.

“We continue to support the NCAA governance redesign process and are committed to enhancing our student-athlete experience by embracing full cost of attendance, academic and professional support, and health and safety initiatives, among other items.

“As this process continues, we support the idea of making all autonomous legislation permissive, and we are examining the proposed areas of autonomy to determine if any are more appropriate for shared governance.

“The American continues to be supportive of governance reform and the work of the NCAA Steering Committee. We appreciate the opportunity to address issues and concerns with the Steering Committee during the comment period and look forward to a successful NCAA restructuring that will serve the needs of our student-athletes and our institutions in the years to come.”

In other words, if the Power Five conferences achieve autonomy from the NCAA and decide they want to make things easier for student-athletes financially and in other ways, the AAC is willing to make the same kind of changes.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Prince Ali Re-Opens Recruitment, Still Considering UConn

Prince Ali, a 2015 UConn commit, has apparently decided to re-open his recruitment.

So much for Kevin Ollie's new contract having a positive effect on recruiting.

Ali is a 6-foot-4 shooting guard out of Florida who committed to UConn last November. While it's not known why Ali made his decision, it's possible he saw a logjam at his position in Storrs. The Huskies have Omar Calhoun back in the fold, with Daniel Hamilton and Sam Cassell, Jr. also coming in next year and Rodney Purvis eligible after sitting out a year as a transfer. UConn's only other 2015 commit is Will Jackson, another 6-4 shooting guard. All of those players could still be at UConn once the 2015-16 season starts.

And, the Huskies appear to be high on the lists of both Jalen Adams (more of a point guard) and Malik Newman, another pair of 2015 guards.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

UConn Won't Be Going to Disney World Next Season

UConn, you just won the national championship, where will you be going next season?

Not to Disney World.

The AAC released its 2014-15 men's basketball conference pairings on Wednesday. Since there are 11 teams in the league next season and the teams will still play an 18-game schedule, that means that each team will not play one team on the road and one team at home. For UConn, it won't be traveling to Orlando, Fla., to play Central Florida, and it won't be hosting Houston next season.

The conference championships, of course, will be in Hartford March 12-15 (Thursday-Sunday), with all 11 teams invited.

The following is a list of each school's home and away pairings for the 2014-15 season:


Home: Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa

Away: Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane


Home: UCF, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane

Away: UCF, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa


Home: UCF, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa

Away: Cincinnati, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa

East Carolina

Home: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, Houston, Memphis, USF, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa

Away: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulsa


Home: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Memphis, USF, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa

Away: UCF, Cincinnati, East Carolina, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa


Home: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa

Away: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, USF, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa


Home: UCF, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa

Away: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa


Home: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, Temple, Tulsa

Away: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, Houston, Memphis, USF, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa


Home: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, USF, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa

Away: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Memphis, USF, SMU, Tulane, Tulsa


Home: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulsa

Away: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, Temple, Tulsa


Home: Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane

Away: UCF, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane

Sunday, May 25, 2014

UConn Grads Win Big off National Championship Wager in Las Vegas

Kevin Ollie wasn't the only one to make some nice scharole off UConn's national championship.

A group of 11 UConn graduates placed a $100 bet at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for UConn to win the NCAA tourney. Each ticketholder collected $5,000 at 50-to-1 odds. After picking up their winnings on Saturday, the group placed another bet on UConn to win next year's tourney.

The group -- Tom Andreoli, Patrick Charmel, Paul Delvecchio, Chris Demattie, Marc Demattie, Dave Faenza, Ferid "Frank" Feratovic, Harrison Fuchs, John Mitkevicius, Michael Price, Dan Stewart and Andrew Zielinski -- dined at the property's Mexican cantina Pink Tako for lunch, we're told, then toasted to a successful bet and started their Memorial Day Weekend celebrations with a shot of tequila.

*** Meanwhile, here's an update on another former UConn player who could be in the big leagues at some point this season. Not a basketball player, but pitcher Matt Barnes of Bethel.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kevin Ollie Signs Five-Year Deal with UConn

Kevin Ollie and UConn have agreed to a five-year, $15 million contract. Here's the Cliff's Notes version, via UConn. More to come later ...

University of Connecticut Contract Summary, Kevin Ollie, Head Men's Basketball Coach

CONTRACT PERIOD: The term of the contract is June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2019.

SALARY/SPEAKING AND MEDIA APPEARANCES: The contract calls for an annual base salary, as well as, annual payments for institutional speaking and media appearances.

The following is a year-by-year summary of those payments:

Period Base Salary Speaking and Media Fees Total

June 1, 2014-May 31, 2015 $400,000 $2,400,000 $2,800,000

June 1, 2015-May 31, 2016 $400,000 $2,500,000 $2,900,000

June 1, 2016-May 31, 2017 $400,000 $2,600,000 $3,000,000

June 1, 2017-May 31, 2018 $400,000 $2,700,000 $3,100,000

June 1, 2018-May 31, 2019 $400,000 $2,800,000 $3,200,000

NOTE: No General Fund (state tax dollars) or tuition monies were used to provide any of the resources for this contract. The Division of Athletics at the University of Connecticut is an Auxiliary Service Fund entity and the sources of revenue include: gate receipts, private fundraising, corporate partnerships, television/radio rights, conference revenues and NCAA revenues.

AUTOMOBILE ALLOWANCE: The Coach will receive an annual car allowance in the amount of $15,000 to be paid on a bi-weekly basis.

SUMMER CAMPS/CLINICS: The Coach may organize and direct basketball camps or clinics utilizing University dormitories, dining halls, athletics facilities and other campus facilities, at the rates and fees published by the University's Conference Services Office. Coach Ollie may also organize and direct basketball camps or clinics located off the University's campus. All camps and clinics run by the Coach shall be owned and operated by the Coach.

ENDORSEMENT CONTRACTS: Any consulting, endorsement or outside income activity performed by the Coach shall be consistent with the University consulting policy. Personal endorsement agreement must be consistent with the University's agreement with IMG and compliant with all University policies and all Connecticut state statutes.

TICKETS: The University will provide the Coach with twenty (20) tickets for personal use and purchase privileges for up to ten (10) additional tickets for all home, away, conference tournament and post-season men's basketball events while serving as Head Men's Basketball Coach. The University will provide the Coach with twenty (20) tickets in a suite and five (5) parking passes for personal use for all home football games at Rentschler Field while serving as Head Men's Basketball Coach. The Coach will be responsible for all costs associated with food and beverage service in the suite and no such costs shall be regarded as subject to reimbursement. Also, the Coach will be entitled to receive four (4) tickets for all other UConn home athletic events.

COUNTRY CLUB: The University shall pay the current fee categories for an annual family membership at a country club approved by the athletic director.

COMPENSATION FOR SERVICES AND PERFORMANCE: The Coach will receive one month of base salary for winning a conference regular season championship; one month of base salary for winning a conference post-season tournament championship; one month of base salary for participation in the NCAA tournament; one month of base salary for participation in the NCAA Sweet 16; one month of base salary for participation in the NCAA Elite Eight; one month of base salary for participation the NCAA Final Four; three month of base salary for winning the NCAA national championship; one-half month of base salary for winning a conference and/or national coach of the year award; a $5,000 payment for each academic semester with a team grade point average of 2.8 or above; a $10,000 payment for each year with an APR score of 930 or above.

BUYOUT: If the Coach accepts a position as a Head Coach of men's basketball at an NCAA Division I institution, the following will be due to the University from the Coach: $5,000,000 in 2014-15; $4,000,000 in 2015-16; $3,000,000 in 2016-17; $2,000,000 in 2017-18 and 2018-19. If the Coach accepts a position as a Head Coach or Assistant Coach in the NBA, the following will be due to the University from the Coach: $5,000,000 in 2014-15; $4,000,000 in 2015-16; $1,000,000 in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19.


Kevin Ollie Signs New Contract with Interesting Buyout Clauses

Kevin Ollie has signed a new five-year contract worth $2.8 million per year, with incentives that could push it up to $3 million per year, according to ESPN's Andy Katz.

Here's the most interesting part: according to sources, Ollie has separate buyout clauses that differentiate between taking another college job and an NBA job. If Ollie takes another college job, he would owe UConn more than if he were to land an NBA job.

This is pretty unique.

Of course, it's also hard to imagine Ollie leaving UConn to coach at any other school. But it's obvious that the NBA is still a possibility, no matter how far down the road.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Kevin Ollie Close to Signing New Contract with UConn

Kevin Ollie is close to signing a new contract with UConn believed to be worth about $15 over the next five years.

It's not official yet, but could be by the end of the week.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Jim Calhoun: UConn Will "Pay (Kevin Ollie) Exceptionally Well"

Add Jim Calhoun to the growing list of people (including, pretty much, Kevin Ollie himself) who are pretty convinced Ollie will be the head coach at UConn this upcoming season.

“He’d be foolish if he didn’t explore,” the Hall of Famer said, “but I think he’s going to be the coach at UConn. Kevin needs to weigh everything at the time – how you feel, what’s right for your family, what’s right for you, what the future holds. I’m sure Kevin doesn’t want to go through this every year. UConn’s gonna be UConn, and they’re gonna pay him exceptionally well.”

Had a chance to speak with Calhoun by phone the other day, and as always, he had some interesting things to say. One thing I found particularly interesting, aside from the fact that he says he hasn't given an ounce of thought to replacing Ollie if Ollie were to leave (hey, I had to ask), was his response when asked if the NBA rumors could hurt UConn on the recruiting trail.

"In a bizarre sort of way,” Calhoun said, “kids may like that a guy they may go for is being though of so well in the NBA. For these kids, the NBA is the end-all.”

True enough.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Kevin Ollie: "I Am Not Looking for Another Job"

Wasn't able to get to the New York Athletic Club Wednesday, where Kevin Ollie and Geno Auriemma each were presented with their Winged Foot Awards as national championship coaches. But Jim Fuller, the Register's UConn women's beat writer, was there, and here's what he got from Ollie:

It was a moment that they will never be able to get back. To see Shabazz get called up at the end and get the standing ovation, I am kind of an emotional guy when it comes to those things and I even had to shed a tear on that one.

It is progressing. We are talking, hopefully we can get together once things quiet down and we will have a nice talk, hopefully get everything situated.

I love this university. I am not looking for another job, of course you listen to other things. I have two ears so I am going to listen. I am not going out there soliciting any other job, I want to be here at the university of Connecticut.

We had a lot of uncertainty 18 months ago. I don't need to go through all of that, it has been well documented and chronicled of the different things we had to come through and our kids. We established a mindset through it all, they gave us an oppprtunity to call ourselves national champions.


It is positive and negative too. Other coaches are (saying) oh he is going to the NBA, it is how you look at what other people are going. We are going to keep doing the different things that got us here, make sure we value the positive things that are going on that is the work ethic, that is the professionalism and I am hopeful that we can continue to get better every day

The other night he is up to 270 and I said you have to get down a little bit, we don;t want to be playing at 270/280 but he is going to be a great building block for us in the future. Just a great rebouder, big in every way. he has a great personality too so he is going to fit right in our locker room and he is going to be a guy who is going to bring a lot fo leadership and muscle. He is different from what we had last year but what we had last year helped us win a national championship so we are going to go with that all day.

It is very prestigious. I came here and spoke with Coach Calhoun in 2004, it was a great time. I never imagined getting this prestigious award and I appreciate this opportunity the university gave me to represent them and hopefully I am paying them back.

That was one of the best days of my life. It was great to spend time with President Obama and see the situation room, make sure I didn't say the wrong thing. I know the intel was all in there, they had speakers everywhere but it was just a great time, i spent time with Geno, I spent time with other colleagues and that leadership seminar at Pentagon and see the military, what they do each and every day and for us to give something back to them was great. Hopefully we can formulate a partnership going forward
we can have a day to recognize them, their accomplishments and work hand in hand with them in our community.

Yes he did, Izzo said it was my faulty but I will take that, I will take the blame.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Niels Giffey Thinking About NBA ... Kevin Ollie, too?

Niels Giffey is one of eight NBA hopefuls who will be working out at the St. Vincent Sports Performance's NBA Pre-Draft Training Program over the next two months of team evaluations and scouting.

Giffey joins Garry Harris (Michigan State), Glenn Robinson III (Michigan), Semaj Christon (Xavier), Jake Odum (Indiana State), Trevor Releford (Alabama), Eric Atkins (Notre Dame) and Luke Hancock (Louisville) as players committed to working out at SVSP.

Meanwhile, Kevin Ollie's eyes could be shifted towards the NBA even more over the next couple of days. A source told me for a story I wrote this morning that an NBA team that has already expressed preliminary interest in Ollie will likely soon "come hard" at Ollie over the next couple of days. The source wouldn't name the team but noted that it wasn't any of the "obvious teams" -- the Lakers, Warriors or Knicks. A week earlier, I was told it wasn't Oklahoma City or Detroit (yet).

Then, this afternoon, Cleveland fired head coach Mike Brown.

The plot thickens ...

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kevin Ollie, Geno Auriemma Live from the Pentagon Today

Kevin Ollie and Geno Auriemma will be among the renowned group of basketball coachese on a visit to the Pentagon Wednesday for a strategy seminar with military officials. They will also conduct a panel discussion on leadership for more than 400 service members.

The event will be carried live on the Pentagon Channel and webcast starting at 1:30 p.m.

Joining Ollie and Auriemma will be Jim Boeheim, Jamie Dixon, Tom Izzo, Tubby Smith and Jay Wright. Jay Bilas will moderate the panel discussion.


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Monday, May 5, 2014

Kevin Ollie Will Listen to NBA Teams, But Likely to Stay at UConn

One NBA team (not the Lakers or Thunder) has made preliminary contact with Kevin Ollie's camp, if only to let Ollie know they're interested in him, but waiting to see how other things shake out.

Others are sure to come: the Lakers and, quite possibly, according to a source, the Detroit Pistons. 

But it still seems overwhelmingly likely that Ollie will remain in Storrs. And while extensive talks with UConn haven't really started yet, this could get done relatively soon, we're told by someone with knowledge of the situation.

One thing to clarify, however: in an earlier version of the above linked story, I wrote that Ollie and UConn had about 35 days from the end of the season to iron out a new contract. That was the wording of the letter of agreement Ollie signed in December, 2012. However, that was not part of the official pact Ollie signed in October, 2013. So there is no actual timetable to the contract talks.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Leon Tolksdorf Transferring to American University

Leon Tolksdorf has decided to transfer from UConn. He'll head to American University in Washington, D.C.

Billed as a sharpshooter, Tolksdorf never got much of a chance to display his skills in his two seasons in Storrs. He played in just 11 games as a freshman and just 13 this past season, averaging only 1.5 points in 5.3 minutes per game for his career. By the end of this season, he was known primarily for getting into games during garbage time and jacking up as many 3's as possible.

Tolksdorf committed to UConn in May, 2012, shortly after an official visit to campus. Interestingly, UConn's coaching staff had never seen him play live before his visit, only on video. He had been recruited by other schools -- Providence, Louisiana-Lafayette -- but said choosing the Huskies was an easy one.

It didn't quite work out for the Berlin, Germany native, but he's a great kid, an excellent student, and he should find a nice home at American, a mid-major where he could prosper as a double-figures scorer.

Here's the press release from UConn:

Sophomore forward Leon Tolksdorf (Berlin, Germany) has decided to transfer from UConn and will continue his education and college basketball career at American University in Washington, D.C.

"Leon did everything we asked him to do at UConn, on the court and in the classroom," Coach Kevin Ollie said. "He came to practice every day ready to work hard and push his teammates to improve. He was a big part of our winning the national championship. We wish him the best of luck as he moves on."

"I have enjoyed two unforgettable years at UConn and I am proud to have been part of the Husky family," Tolksdorf said. "I never thought I would call Storrs a second home, but being at UConn and knowing my teammates has had a huge impact on me. At the same time, I am also excited to accept this new challenge in my life."

Tolksdorf, a 6-8 forward, appeared in 24 games for UConn, averaging 1.5 points and 0.8 rebounds in 5.3 minutes per game.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Kevin Ollie's Not Going Anywhere. Yet. I Think.

By now, you're surely aware of the report that the Los Angeles Lakers plan to gauge Kevin Ollie's interest in their head coaching job, now that Mike D'Antoni has resigned. It was inevitable -- and, in fact, something that's been rumored for a while now, before D'Antoni left the position. And it will be something we'll be hearing a lot more of, not just in respect to the Lakers but Oklahoma City, the Knicks, maybe even the Celtics at some point.

As I discussed with Paul Nanos this afternoon on 979 ESPN Radio, I don't think Kevin Ollie's going anywhere. At least not yet. Just as Shabazz Napier said following the championship parade a few weeks ago, and Ollie essentially agreed.

For one, the Lakers aren't exactly an ideal landing spot right now. There's the Kobe Bryant drama, and the prospect that the team could be in a rebuilding phase for the next few years. A more likely scenario might be the Thunder, where Kevin Durant is an unabashed fan. But they have a coach, they're in the playoffs, and if they have any semblance of success in the playoffs, they probably won't fire Scott Brooks.

Plus, remember, Ollie could have taken a job with the Thunder after he retired from playing four years ago. Instead, he decided to come home to become Jim Calhoun's assistant (and, for all intents and purposes, UConn's coach-in-waiting). The man values his family life in Glastonbury, where his son, Jalen, is a senior in high school who'll attend prep school next year and his daughter will be beginning high school in a couple of years. Hard to believe he'd want to leave for the Midwest or West Coast ... yet.

From that perspective, the Knicks or Celtics would make a lot more sense. But seems the Knicks are intent on Steve Kerr, and the Celtics aren't about to give up on Brad Stevens ... yet. Check back in a couple of years on that one.

And don't forget, Ollie has preached loyalty from the time he returned to UConn. He's gone out of his way numerous times praising the players -- Napier, Niels Giffey, Tyler Olander, etc. -- who could have bolted the program after the postseason tourney ban was announced but remained loyal to the program. It's hard to believe Ollie would leave so quickly, no matter what kind of money the NBA could throw his way.

And make no mistake, the NBA can throw a lot more money Ollie's way than Warde Manuel ever could. (Through a spokesman, Manuel has said that there is "no update" on any contract extension talks with Ollie to this point). But remember: Ollie would have about as iron-clad grip on a job as any coach in the country would have in college basketball, what with a national title on his resume after just two seasons on the job. It's hard to imagine a scenario where Ollie would or could lose his job at UConn any time soon.

The shelf life for an NBA coach, on the other hand, is a lot shorter. Go through a couple of losing seasons, particularly in New York or L.A., and they'll be calling for your head. What's a more attractive financial future: making, say, $3 million a year for what could be 15, 20, 25 more years, or making $6-7 million a year with the prospect of getting canned lurking at the end of any disappointing season? Sure, Ollie could become the next Gregg Poppovich or Doc Rivers. But for every Poppovich or Rivers, there are dozens of guys who only last a couple years as head coach.

And let's also remember: if Ollie were to leave UConn now, he'd have to pay about a $2.5 million buyout.

Kevin Ollie may well wind up head coach of the Lakers or Thunder or Knicks or Celtics or who knows who else. I just don't see it happening now. Not yet.

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