Calhoun ends long career; Ollie takes over

Coach one of only 5 men to win 3 national titles

Published On: Sep 14 2012 10:15:12 AM EDT

Jim Calhoun is moving on to the next chapter in his life.

After 26 years at Connecticut and 40 years as a college basketball coach, Calhoun officially announced his retirement Thursday at a news conference in Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn.

Kevin Ollie, an assistant and former player, will take over for Calhoun. Ollie was given a one-year contract.

Calhoun walks away as one of only five men to win three national championships – the last one coming in 2011. He was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005, largely based on his ability to turn UConn into a national power.

“We were going to have something to say about the future of basketball in the Big East,” Calhoun said. “The first step is to believe you can be special.

“I have been blessed with so many people who believed in that dream. This could only have been accomplished with a collective effort. That's the story of UConn.”

Calhoun has battled health problems through the years. He has overcome skin and prostate cancer and struggled with back issues.

The 70-year-old Calhoun sustained a fractured hip in a fall from a bike on Aug. 4. However, he said his injury wasn’t the reason for his decision.

“I always said that I would know when it was time, whenever that might be,” Calhoun said. “The hip injury really didn't enter into the decision, except that it gave me more time to think about it and the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that this was the right time to move on to the next phase of my life.

“Am I going to miss coaching basketball? Of course. But I'm making sure I get my fix by watching the workouts. I have no doubt that Kevin and the staff will do a great job.”

As he retires with a 873-380 career record that includes his previous coaching job at Northeastern, the UConn program is ineligible for the 2013 NCAA Tournament because of its low Academic Progress Rate score. The Huskies are the first team from the six major conferences in men’s basketball or football to face such a postseason ban.

In Calhoun’s final season, he also served a three-game suspension in the Big East tournament last season for recruiting violations.

Ollie is Calhoun’s hand-picked successor. USA Today reported Ollie’s one-year contract is a compromise. The school wanted to make Ollie an interim coach.

The former Huskies standout had served as an assistant under Calhoun since 2010 after a 13-year career in the NBA.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but right here,” Ollie said. “This is my dream job. I was made for this job.”

George Blaney, Calhoun's top assistant, will stay on as the associate head coach under Ollie.