UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Star guard Paige Bueckers plans to play for UConn in 2023-24

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STORRS, Conn. – Paige Bueckers intends to play basketball in the 2023-24 season for Connecticut after recovering from an ACL injury that’s sidelined her this season.

Speaking on campus for the first time since being hurt, Bueckers was adamant in saying she will not enter the 2023 WNBA Draft and will return to play college ball.

“I’m not leaving. That is not in question,” the 21-year-old Bueckers said Thursday during a media availability. “People asked me, `What are you thinking about, fifth year, COVID year, redshirt this year?’ I’m not thinking too far ahead about that at all. But I will be playing college basketball again.”

Bueckers had an injury-marred 2021-22 season. She missed most of the season with tibial plateau fracture and lateral meniscus tear in her left knee. The Minnesota native returned for the NCAA tournament last spring and helped UConn to the title game, which it lost to No 1 South Carolina. In 17 games last season, Bueckers averaged 14.6 points.

Bueckers is expected to miss the upcoming season after she injured the same knee in a pickup game in early August. The national player of the year as a freshman had surgery four days later.

“I was going full speed and I sort of tried to come to a stop and there was some contact, not a lot of contact, but it just kind of gave out,” Bueckers said. “I knew it was bad. I felt a pop. And then I went to the training room and I was extremely frustrated. I didn’t know how serious it was, but I knew something was wrong.”

UConn’s Paige Bueckers suffers torn ACL, will miss upcoming season

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers tore the ACL in her left knee during a pickup game and will miss the entire 2022-23 season.

UConn said in a statement that Bueckers suffered the injury and underwent an MRI. It did not say where the junior guard from Hopkins, Minnesota, was playing when the injury occurred. It was the same knee she injured last year, causing her to miss significant time.

In a statement posted on her Instagram account, Bueckers said she is leaning on her faith to move forward.

“It’s so so crazy because you work so hard to get back healthy, you feel stronger than ever, and you are playing your best basketball and with one sudden movement it all shifts,” she wrote. “It’s hard trying to make sense of it all now but I can’t help but think that God is using me as a testimony as to how much you can overcome with Him by your side.”

Bueckers was named the 2020-21 AP national player of the year, becoming the first freshman to earn that honor. She averaged 20.1 points, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals per game that season.

She missed 19 games last season after suffering a left knee tibia plateau fracture and torn meniscus in early December. But Bueckers returned to lead the Huskies to the Final Four, where the Huskies lost to South Carolina in the championship game at Target Center in Minneapolis, which is 10 miles from her hometown.

She finished the season averaging 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.

“We’re all devastated for Paige,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She’s worked really hard to get stronger and healthier this offseason, and this is an unfortunate setback. Paige is obviously an amazing basketball player, but she’s a better person and teammate and it’s really unfortunate that this has happened to her. We’ll miss her presence on the court, but she’ll do everything she can to still lead and help her teammates this season. Our program will support Paige through her healing process to help her come back better and stronger.”

UConn said Bueckers will undergo surgery on Friday at UConn Health in Farmington.

“There is going to be good days and there is going to be bad days but my absolute love for the game and Godly strength will get me back to where I need to be,” Bueckers wrote. “I’ve worked too hard for the little kid in these pictures to keep going for the dreams I’ve had since I first picked up the ball, so why would I stop now? The prayers and love means so much to me and the doubts that I won’t get back to where I was might mean even more. God put a dream in my heart and even if I have to walk through a nightmare to get it I’m going to keep believing.”

Arkansas to open against Louisville in Maui Invitational

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LAHAINA, Hawaii — Arkansas will face Louisville in the opening round of a loaded 2022 Maui Invitational bracket.

The eight-team bracket announced for the November event will include six teams that went to the 2022 NCAA Tournament, including three that reached the Sweet 16.

Arizona faces Cincinnati in the opening round after reaching the Sweet 16 in coach Tommy Lloyd’s first season. Texas Tech, another Sweet 16 team last season, plays Creighton and San Diego State faces Ohio State in the tournament’s return to the Lahaina Civic Center on Nov. 21-23.

The 2020 tournament was held in Asheville, North Carolina, and last year’s was played in Las Vegas.

Arkansas has reached the Elite Eight the past two seasons under coach Eric Musselman.

Emoni Bates says he’s transferring to hometown E. Michigan

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YPSILANTI, Mich. — Emoni Bates, one of the top recruits in the 2021 men’s basketball recruiting class, says he is transferring from Memphis to Eastern Michigan.

Bates, in an Instagram post, announced his decision to return to his hometown of Ypsilanti to play for the Eagles of the Mid-American Conference. An EMU spokesman said he could not confirm Bates’ transfer.

Bates averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game his freshman season at Memphis and started 13 of 18 games. He missed 15 games because of a back injury before appearing in the Tigers’ two NCAA Tournament games.

The 6-foot-9 forward announced in April that he would leave Memphis and later said he would decide among Michigan, Arkansas, Seton Hall, DePaul, Louisville and Eastern Michigan.

Bates originally was on track to be in the 2022 recruiting class, but last summer he reclassified to the class of 2021 and signed with Penny Hardaway at Memphis after de-committing from Michigan State.

Eastern Michigan was 10-21 overall and 5-15 in the MAC last season and has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 1998.

Roy Williams, Jim Calhoun among coaches headed to college hoops Hall

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Roy Williams and Jim Calhoun will join John Beilein and Lon Kruger in a star-studded cast of coaches who will be inducted into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame in November.

Another longtime coach, Jerry Krause of Eastern Washington, will join the quartet along with players Richard Hamilton of UConn, Larry Miller of North Carolina, Frank Selvy of Furman and Jimmy Walker of Providence.

The date of the induction ceremony has not been announced, but it typically coincides with the Hall of Fame Classic, which is set for Nov. 21-22 at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Williams retired in 2021 after leading two of college basketball’s bluebloods, Kansas and North Carolina, to a combined 903 wins – the third most for a Division I coach – and nine Final Four appearances. He spent his first 15 seasons with the Jayhawks before returning to his alma mater in 2003, where he led the Tar Heels to three national championships in 18 seasons.

Calhoun won three national championships at UConn, the first of them with Hamilton, who was voted the Final Four’s MVP after the Huskies beat Duke for the 1999 title. Calhoun’s other championships came in 2004 and 2011, making him one of six coaches in Division I history with at least three national titles.

Calhoun won 920 games with UConn, Northeastern and Division III Saint Joseph, where he finished his career in 2021.

Beilein won 829 games between stops at Erie Community College, Nazareth, Le Moyne, Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan. The latter is where he became school’s winningest coach and had a pair of Final Four appearances.

Kruger also made two Final Four trips, first with Florida and then with Oklahoma, while leading five programs to the NCAA Tournament.

Krause spent 17 seasons at Eastern Washington, ushering the program from NAIA status to the Division I level.

Among the players, Miller starred on Dean Smith’s first two Final Four teams at North Carolina in the 1960s and remains one of three players in ACC history to win player of the year and tournament MVP in consecutive seasons. Selvy led Division I in scoring in 1953 and 1954, when he averaged 41.7 points for Furman. Walker led Providence to a pair of NCAA Tournaments in the 1960s, twice earning All-American honors while averaging 25.2 points for his career.