Dec. 29, 2012
Warde Manuel, Director of Athletics
“On behalf of President [Susan] Herbst and chairman [Larry] McHugh, I want to welcome you all to a great day in our history. As far as we’re concerned, Kevin [Ollie] has already been named our 18th basketball coach in our history. He has done us proud and done a great job and I’m proud to announce Kevin Ollie as our 18th men’s basketball coach for what I hope is a very, very long time. He just turned 40 on Thursday and I hope that he can have a storied career. Briefly, he has shown that he can coach, lead this team on the court and academically. He has been a great colleague; not only to me but to the assistant coaches, our head coaches, the student-athletes around, our fans and our donors. He is a great person. For those of you who know him well, he’s one of the best people that you will ever meet. He is a great husband; he is a great father. Finally, he is the epitome of a UConn Husky.”
How closely were you evaluating Kevin Ollie?
“I had the opportunity to watch him throughout the preseason in practice. I’ve had a lot of interaction with him, observing practice, talking to him about what he’s doing, talking to him about his plans and where we’re going and how he’s structuring the things that he needs to do to run the program. When issues come up you see the most when people bring things to your attention and how they handle it and the leadership qualities that they show. We interact either through observation or conversation weekly or daily if necessary.”
Kevin Ollie, Head Men’s Basketball Coach
“First of all, I’d like to thank God; thank President Herbst for giving me this opportunity. I also want to thank our A.D. for having faith in me and awarding me with this contract. I want to thank chairman McHugh and all the fans that supported me. I just want to thank everybody for sharing this with me. Last, but not least, I want to thank my outstanding coaching staff. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them; their tireless, relentless work in the background. Sometimes they don’t get the recognition that they deserve, so I want to take this opportunity to give them this recognition and I just appreciate them so much and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. The last thank you is my team. They performed and it hasn’t just been good, because I don’t want any of our teams at the University of Connecticut to settle for good. I think that that’s the road to mediocrity. I want them to be great. And not only that, I want them to take a step beyond great and be outstanding. Not only on the basketball court, but they stand out in the classroom; they stand out academically and that’s what we want all of our UConn Huskies to be about. I want to thank coach [Jim] Calhoun for believing in me also. When a lot of people wrote me off as a point guard here, he stepped up. Sophomore, junior and senior year I started every game and it was because he had the trust in me. To bring me back as an assistant coach and now giving me this opportunity to follow him, is just a great honor. We’re going to do things well and we’re going to do things right. I’m not here for a five-year contract. That’s what is says on the paper, but we are recruiting for a lifetime. The standard of excellence that we have at this university is going to continue. We’re not talking about wins and losses, we’re talking about national championships; conference championships. That’s what I signed up for. That’s not going to stop; not under my watch.”
What was the impact of your initial contract on recruiting?
“[The contract] is done. We might have had some recruits go to other schools, but that always happens. I can’t control that. What I can control is we’re going to go out and get some great recruits. They’re going to come to a great university and get a great degree here and be able to perform in front of the greatest fans that a person can ever perform in front of and they’re going to also be around a great coaching staff that is going to nourish them, love them and is going to provide a support system, not only on the basketball court, but for life.”
What was your mindset upon accepting the one-year deal in September?
“The key word is belief. A belief is knowing that without certainty that something is going to happen. An idea is something without legs underneath it; a belief is something that you know is going to happen and I had a belief in Warde giving me a fair shake and an opportunity. I had a belief in my coaching staff and first and foremost I had a belief in my players that we could get it done and we’re going to defy all odds. We’re going to continue to play hard, continue to respect the game and that’s what I believe and what I preach each and every day.”
What are your thoughts on the APR language in your contract?
“I agreed to it because I have a belief in my system and my student-athletes. They’re students first and we’re going to get it done. I believe in the support staff that we have. They can create a great learning experience for our guys. We’ve got a great staff here and I believe in these kids and they’ve performed exceptionally well. I have all the faith in the world in my student-athletes and that me and my coaching staff have the ability to touch them, not only in basketball, but also academically along with our academic advisers.”
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