Former University of Connecticut men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie claims his March 10 firing was racially motivated and is fighting the university for the right to make that claim.
According to the New Haven Register, Ollie and his attorneys have for several months been seeking to file a complaint of race discrimination with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or in the courts. His attorneys want to preserve the right to do so after his current arbitration process with UConn is over. However, Ollie's attorneys contend that UConn is preventing their client from doing so, based on a provision in the collective bargaining agreement between Ollie’s union and the school that would allow UConn to end its current arbitration proceedings with Ollie if he took that route.
"It's unfortunate that the University of Connecticut has forced us to seek federal court intervention to protect Kevin’s right to file a claim of discrimination after we go to arbitration," said Ollie attorney Jacques Parenteau. "There is no good reason for the University of Connecticut to refuse to cooperate with us on this.
"I can't understand why they would not agree. It does them no harm whatsoever to say, 'If you have this right, we’ll just waive it until after the arbitration.' It's just to be punitive, or, as we allege, retaliatory."
The statute-of-limitations deadline for filing a discrimination case with the CHRO was Monday, so Ollie is seeking an emergency injunction in U.S. District Court.
According to the injunction request dated Dec. 17, Ollie is claiming "disparate treatment" against him compared to white coaches at UConn, including Jim Calhoun. The document notes that Calhoun was found to have violated NCAA rules after investigations in 2011 and 2012 that were more severe than what Ollie was accused of doing. Instead of being fired, the document states, Calhoun was paid more than $1.9 million between 2012 (when he retired) and September 2018.
Ollie contends that this proves he has been discriminated against on the basis of race and color, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act.
UConn claims Ollie violated several NCAA rules during his six seasons as UConn’s head coach, from shooting baskets with a prospective recruit to allowing illicit workouts between his players and trainers and setting up a phone call between a recruit and Hall of Famer Ray Allen, a former UConn star.
Ollie is seeking to recoup the nearly $11 million that was remaining on his contract at the time he was fired. Along with the allegations of racial discrimination, Ollie continues to contend that he was fired without "just cause."