Kevin Ollie Says UConn Violated Constitutional Rights in Firing Him for Cause

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 18, 2018

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY - FEBRUARY 22: Head coach Kevin Ollie of the Connecticut Huskies is seen during the game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at BB&T Arena on February 22, 2018 in Highland Heights, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Former UConn head men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie and his lawyers said in a letter to the university that his constitutional rights were violated when he was fired for cause.

The letter said Ollie was never given the opportunity to refute the cause for his termination, which was guaranteed in his contract. It also said he was prevented from receiving the $10 million termination payout he would have received if he were fired without cause.

Myron Medcalf of ESPN.com shared an excerpt from the letter:

"From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie's employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated [Coach Ollie's] rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie's opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment.

"The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie's property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

Ollie, 45, was fired March 10 with cause, though the university has not publicly stated the basis for that distinction. The program is being investigated by the NCAA for potential recruiting violations, which may be connected to Ollie's dismissal.

Ollie was replaced by former Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley, who was hired in late March.

Per Medcalf, Ollie had the right to a termination letter outlining the cause for termination as a part of the collective bargaining agreement agreed upon by UConn's branch of the American Association of University Professors. He also had a right to a hearing.

That hearing took place last week with athletic director David Benedict, who maintained the school's decision to fire him with cause. Ollie will next have a hearing with UConn president Susan Herbst, and if she agrees with the decision to fire him, he can choose to bring aboard an arbitrator to hear his case, according to Medcalf.

If the arbiter upholds his firing with cause, Ollie's last recourse is a lawsuit. Given that his letter accuses the school of a violation of the 14th Amendment, which protects due process, it would appear Ollie and his legal team are preparing for that option.

Ollie went 127-79 during his six seasons for the Huskies, leading the team to two NCAA tournaments and the 2013-14 national title.

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