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Kevin Ollie could be facing a show-cause penalty from the NCAA after being hit with a charge of unethical conduct from college sports' governing body.
A notice of allegations sent by the NCAA to both UConn and Ollie reveals that Ollie faces a Level 1 unethical charge due to false or misleading information about phone calls between former UConn stars Ray Allen and Rudy Gay and a highly-touted recruit. The NCAA also states that Ollie lied when denying he knew of impermissible workouts given to multiple UConn players, both on campus and in Atlanta, by Derek Hamilton, a personal friend.
The news was first reported by ESPN on Friday night.
Ollie was charged with multiple violations — providing unfair recruiting benefits, exceeding limits on recruiting hours, failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance, failing to monitor players' outside workouts — that all fall under a coaching responsibility violation.
Ollie was fired with "just cause" on March 10 after six seasons. UConn has determined that Ollie violated multiple NCAA rules and failed to promote a culture of compliance, and the sides are now battling over the more than $10 million remaining on his contract. That is due to go to arbitration unless a resolution through negotiation can be reached.
UConn's case appeared to become a lot stronger now, however, with the NCAA's notice of allegations. The program isn't out of the woods in terms of receiving any sort of punishment from the NCAA, though that wouldn't figure to be a particularly strict penalty.
For Ollie, the NCAA's charges could effect his future employment, if he wants to continue to coach at the collegiate level. A show-cause penalty is an administrative punishment by the NCAA imposed on a coach found to have committed major rules violations. It can stay in effect for that coach for a specific period of time, and also be transferred to any other school that hires the coach while the sanctions are still in effect.
The penalty would have no effect on Ollie if he took a job in the NBA or another professional league.
UConn released the following statement on Friday night:
"The NCAA's notice of allegations is part of a process we have been expecting. We believe its allegations are consistent with our original, internal findings and our joint investigative work with the enforcement staff. We maintain that the actions we have taken to date remain appropriate and consistent with the type, nature, and severity of the levied allegations.
While the allegations are a disappointment for the university, our student-athletes and coaches, and certainly all of UConn Nation, we believe strongly that we have made difficult yet appropriate decisions intended to protect the accountability, integrity, and success of our athletic program now and well into the future."
UConn will hold its first official practice under new coach Dan Hurley on Saturday morning.
The NCAA alleges the following recruiting infractions under Ollie:
Former player Boo Willingham had impermissible in-person recruiting contacts on at least three occasions — one at a high school and two others on-campus.
In 2016-17, the program provided a free meal to a recruit on an unofficial visit.
In December, 2016, Ollie planned and arranged two separate FaceTime calls between a recruit and both Ray Allen and Rudy Gay.
Former director of student-athlete development Danny Griffin had impermissible recruiting contacts between the fall of 2014 and the 2016-17 academic year.
Ollie provided complimentary admission to an away men's basketball game for Derek Hamilton, the father of a recruitable football prospective student-athlete.
During a 2016-17 unofficial visit, the men's basketball staff provided impermissible meals to two prospective student-athletes and their families. The staff also provided free athletic apparel on an unofficial visit.
During the 2016-17 academic year, the program used 132 recruiting person days, exceeding the 130 annual limit.
During a September, 2017 official visit, Ollie shot free throws with a recruit.
The NCAA also alleges that in the spring and summer of 2016, Hamilton, a professional basketball trainer, provided extra benefits to one men's basketball player and two then-men's basketball players, providing free training services, lodging, meals and local transportation. The NCAA asserts that Ollie knew of this but failed to ensure these actions complied with NCAA rules.
The notice of allegations states that Ollie provided false or misleading information to NCAA enforcement staff regarding both the phone calls from Allen and Gay and the training provided and extra benefits provided by Hamilton.
In a statement released on Friday night, Ollie's attorney, Jacques Parenteau, said: "Coach Kevin Ollie is credited with restoring integrity to the UConn men's basketball program and promoting an atmosphere of compliance with NCAA rules following a period that included the team's suspension from tournament play. Under Ollie's leadership the men's basketball program has had among the highest scores in the nation for academic performance. A complete turn-around."
"Coach Ollie strongly disputes the details of the allegations made in the NCAA's notice and is disappointed that the NCAA has chosen to align itself with the University of Connecticut in the pending arbitration," Parenteau's statement continued. "Coach Ollie denies engaging in any conduct that would constitute non-compliance with NCAA rules and regulations and looks forward to defending himself and restoring his reputation."
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