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Ollie Sends Reassuring Tweet To UConn Fans, But No Update

UConn coach Kevin Ollie used Twitter to diffuse talk of his moving to the NBA.

"Don't believe everything you hear!!" he tweeted about 2 p.m. Tuesday. "Only meeting I have is with my team on Thursday at Gampel. We are preparing every day for greatness!!!"

Ollie was on his way to Washington, where he and UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma will participate in a panel discussion on leadership Wednesday at The Pentagon. Earlier, when Ollie tweeted about his trip, he was greeted with responses from Lakers fans exhorting him to "come home" to Los Angeles, as well as UConn fans exhorting him to stay in Storrs, where he just led the Huskies to the national championship. Ollie attended Crenshaw High School in L.A.

Talks between UConn and Ollie aimed at a new contract are moving along. A source familiar with the negotiations, requesting anonymity, said that Ollie and UConn had "exchanged ideas" on Tuesday morning.

Ollie, 41, has four years remaining on the five-year, $7.5 million contract he signed Dec. 28, 2012, a deal that added five years to the original one-season contract he signed when he took over for Jim Calhoun on Sept. 13, 2012.

Last season Ollie made about $1.4 million, counting his base salary of $400,000, $167,000 in bonuses as a result of UConn's tournament run, and payment from other revenue streams. But that is far less than other Final Four coaches, or coaches with established reputations, who make $4 million or more.

Because an offer from the Lakers, or any NBA team, would probably be in the $5 million a year range, any new deal with UConn, to be competitive, would have to be worth at least double the annual value of Ollie's current contract, which would boost it in the neighborhood of $3 million a year.

If Ollie were to leave UConn in 2014, under his current deal, he would have to compensate the school $2.55 million.

Ollie's tweet was evidently in response to a Fox Sports 1 report that he was planning to meet with the Lakers, although nothing had been scheduled. A source close to Ollie said he has had no contact with the Lakers to this point, although another NBA team has contacted him.

The Lakers' job opened when Mike D'Antoni resigned on April 30. The Timberwolves, Jazz and Pistons are also looking for head coaches, and that list grew when the Warriors fired Mark Jackson on Tuesday.

Ollie played for 13 years in the NBA before retiring to join Jim Calhoun's staff in 2010. In his second season as head coach, he led the Huskies to the national title. His combination of youth, vast and fairly recent NBA experience and a winning track record as a college coach make Ollie an ideal candidate for an NBA job. Having grown up in L.A., he is one of a number of candidates mentioned in connection with the Lakers.

But he is settled in Glastonbury and has said on several occasions since the season ended on April 7 that he wants to stay at UConn. His tweet reiterated that, but the speculation will not end until a contract is done with UConn. The school would not comment Tuesday.

The Huskies are 52-18 in Ollie's two seasons, and under his direction UConn's academic standing has improved considerably. The men's basketball team is expected to be in good shape when the Academic Progress Ratings are released this year.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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