HARTFORD, Conn. _ The NCAA investigation into UConn men's basketball has taken nearly a year, and involved hundreds of hours of interviews _ 900 pages were released by UConn pursuant to a Freedom of Information request in June.
The questions reached into a number of areas: recruiting, the roles of noncoaching staff members and the activities of friends and associates of Kevin Ollie. In March, UConn initiated disciplinary action to terminate Ollie's employment for "just cause," and he and the university are still contesting the more than $10 million in salary remaining on his contract. The dispute is heading to arbitration.
UConn acted on its own evidence of infractions, without waiting for the NCAA to deliver its findings, something that could happen at any time and have an impact on Ollie's contract dispute and, of course, result in sanctions against the program.
Here is a look at the cast of characters pulled into the NCAA's investigation.
Title: Director of Player Development
Role: According to his UConn biography, "Working on the off-court development of the student-athletes, helping to set them up for a successful career after college, whether it be in basketball or any other chosen field."
Time frame: Three years, 2014-17
Connection to Ollie: Childhood friend from the South-Central Los Angeles basketball community, high school teammate. He left the program quietly following the 2016-17 season, and became an assistant coach at Cal State-Northridge.
Potential Red Flags: With his background in Los Angeles AAU and high school basketball, and playing experience at UNLV and Rhode Island, it would be tempting to enlist Griffin in recruiting and coaching activities not allowed in his noncoaching position. Investigators asked about Griffin's activity regarding California recruits. Ollie, in his interview, insisted Griffin was not involved in recruiting, or coaching activities outside his defined role.
Dr. Joe Carr
Title: Sports Psychologist
Role: Contracted to conduct team bonding exercises, beginning with a 30-hour session in 2012.
Time frame: 2012-18
Connection to Ollie: From his NBA playing career.
Potential red flags: Carr, in returning to check in on the team at various times, could have overstepped his mandate, including talking to recruits. NCAA investigators asked former associate head basketball coach Glen Miller about Carr's interaction with at least two recruits, whose names were redacted.
Title: Pro Purpose Development, Hoops Director
Role: Outside trainer, alleged to have worked with UConn players on campus and in Atlanta.
Time frame: Undetermined
Connection to Ollie: Played briefly in the NBA, and later trained many NBA players during Ollie's career.
Potential red flags: As he was not an employee of UConn or the men's basketball staff, Hamilton should not have been working with players, unless paid for his services. These workouts would be the most serious violation UConn listed in its reasons for attempting to terminate Ollie's employment for "just cause."
Nantambu "Boo" Willingham
Title: Involved in coaching in the Miami area.
Role: Played at UConn, frequently at games in recent years.
Time frame: Undetermined.
Connection to Ollie: UConn teammates, roommates in the 1990s.
Potential red flags: Was a mentor to Zach Brown, a recruit who committed to UConn, and later decommitted, and could have been involved in recruiting. Investigators asked Ollie about Willingham's role, and potential involvement with two players, names redacted. While Ollie knew about Willingham's relationship with one player _ redacted, but clearly Brown _ he said he was not involved in his recruitment. Miller, and others, told investigators Willingham accompanied Brown on at least one visit to UConn.
Title: According to Ollie, runs One Teleconferencing and had formerly worked for Sun Trust.
Potential red flags: Investigators asked about Tolson's relationship with Ollie and Willingham, and whether Willingham set up a meeting between Tolson and a player, name redacted.
Title: Video Coordinator
Role: Editing video of practices and games, and a growing variety of administrative duties.
Relationship with Ollie: A grad assistant, hired fulltime in 2014.
Time Frame: 2013-17. Spent last season with the Knicks.
Potential red flags: Investigators asked about Sevush's role, if it strayed into coaching, recruiting activities. They were interested in whether he worked on the court with players on plays in the playbook, and his role on recruiting visits, and in logging recruiting trips and activities of the coaches.
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