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(NECN: Brian Burnell, Storrs, Conn.) – It’s the end of an era in Storrs, Conn.
UConn men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun is retiring. He leaves with one of the most impressive resumes in college basketball history.
Twenty-six years ago, Jim Calhoun left the head coaching job for men's basketball at Northeastern University to take over the UConn Huskies. More than 800 wins, three national championships and a hall of fame induction later, Calhoun is stepping down.
At 70 years old and nursing a fractured hip, the latest in a series of health setbacks over the past few years, Calhoun decided it’s time to turn the page.
"I thought it was the right time for me. Thank God I'm very healthy. I always felt last year guilty about missing 11 games. I didn't cause the back problem but I missed 11 games," said Calhoun, Uconn Coach Emeritus.
He will stay on for at least six months to help his hand-picked successor, former Husky, NBA player and UConn assistant coach, Kevin Ollie, move into the job and to raise money for a new basketball practice facility.
"It's a moment of sorrow, of celebration and admiration, most of all, for someone who's been a pillar of this community for over 25 years," said Susan Herbst, UConn President.
UConn basketball faces a tough year. Poor academic performance in the past means this year's team cannot play in the post season. Stars from last year left and, while Calhoun expressed confidence the team will work through that and be a national force again soon, it’s up to Ollie to make that talk a reality. He will have to do that quickly if he wants copy Calhoun's longevity. Ollie received only a one-year-contract worth $625,000.
"This is a way for me to provide Kevin with the opportunity to see how he is as a head coach and to judge him on both some quantitative but a lot of qualitative kind of aspects of what it means to coach," said Warde Manuel, UConn AD.
"I'm going to overcome and we're going to over-achieve and we're going to play great basketball and if, at that time, he sees I'm fit for the coach I'm going to be the coach," said Ollie.
Practice starts in October. The first official game is November 1st.