TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP: Ollie/UConn dispute rears its head at the Pro-Am

TRAVELERS CHAMPIONSHIP: Ollie/UConn dispute rears its head at the Pro-Am

CROMWELL — Ray Allen is one of the greatest UConn basketball players ever, but he’s not happy with his alma mater.

In particuar, he’s disappointed in the treatment of former UConn player and head coach Kevin Ollie, who is locked in a legal battle with UConn in which he is seeking the $10 million left on his contract after he was fired in 2018.

“Right now, I’m not enthusiastic about the university with everything that’s going on with Kevin,” Allen said at the driving range at TPC River Highlands before playing in the Travelers Pro-Am on Wednesday. “Obviously, they are roping me into the situation and they are trying to use me as if I’ve done something negative to the university in recruitment. (It) has not settled well with me. I’m kind of disappointed with the university right now.”

Allen said he sat down for a deposition last month involving the case. The NCAA levied an unethical conduct charge against Ollie last fall, six months after his firing. Among the infractions alleged by the NCAA was an impermissible call orchestrated by Ollie between Allen and a recruit.

“I was badgered by the lawyers on that side and I’m extremely disappointed,” Allen said. “So, they are digging their heels in and I’m not the person to get into a war of words with. This university just needs to pay him the money. They need to come to an agreement and move on. Because I travel the world and I see Husky fans all over the world and the one thing they always say is they need to pay Kevin. Because he’s done too much for the university for them to sit there and drag their heels and dig their feet in.”

The NBA Hall of Famer said he would like to see the situation resolved so all parties can move on and agree on a compromise.

“This man (Ollie), he is one of the state’s own and the way they treat him is embarrassing,” Allen added. “It’s embarrassing, and the only way to get underneath that is to pay him his money and we tie this thing up together and say, ‘This should have never happened and let’s move forward.’ That’s the only resolution that can happen in my opinion. To slight him, make him look bad or slander him — it just makes the university look bad.”

Allen said that Ollie deserves better. The two were teammates at UConn.

“We’ve all watched the evolution of Kevin’s career,” Allen said. “We know who he’s been. We know he’s given so much to the state. He’s won championship as a (head) coach and one as an assistant and that should be enough. He didn’t do anything to intentionally harm this program. Just like myself and coach and his staff and everybody who’s been here. We have done everything to stay on the right side of the NCAA and make sure that this university his held in high regards. We’ve always been ambassadors and right now they have taken that away from us. We need to be looking forward and how we can grow, and right now we are doing this to ourselves. It’s a self-inflicted wound to ourselves.

“Again, I’m in Florida and I deal with this on a day-to-day basis,” Allen said. “‘Why are they doing Kevin this way? What’s happening with Kevin? Why don’t they just pay him his money?’ I don’t know what they say in Storrs or what they say in Connecticut, but I hear this everywhere.”

Tuesday was the sixth-year anniversary of Allen’s critical shot in the Miami Heat’s NBA Championship in 2013. He also won an NBA title with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

“When I’m (at UConn) people say they love Kevin,” Allen said. “They say it’s a shame. Well, speak up. These people who are around the university and sit on boards and see it: Speak up. This is something that needs to be dealt with because it’s a dark cloud that’s hanging over our university. It’s tarnished who we are and where we hope to go.”

Allen and Ollie’s former head coach, Jim Calhoun, was also at The Travelers on Wednesday for the 30th year.

“It’s a situation between Kevin and the university,” Calhoun said. “Ray is one of the greatest representatives in this university and I love Ray Allen to death, but it’s out of his hands and it’s out of mine. I didn’t want Kevin to get fired. I don’t know all of the situation’s details nor do I want to know the situation’s details.

“No one’s winning,” Calhoun added. “It’s hurting everyone. There’s no winners. If Kevin gets a few more bucks, big deal. If the university wins, big deal. No one’s winning and that’s what I don’t want. The place is too special for me.

“I always thought I had nothing to do with it in the first place and I have nothing to do with it now. I wish cooler minds could settle something and then next, next. It’s unfortunate.”

Calhoun coached last season at Division III St. Joseph-West Hartford and hopes to hold that post again in the 2019-20 campaign. He will receive the Best Coach award at the ESPY’s next month.

Calhoun said he still loves UConn.

“It’s never going to be perfect,” Calhoun said. “You know, the day that I walked into that place, it’s a long time and a lot of things have happened since. I didn’t love everything that happened, certainly, but I love the place. I love UConn still. I love UConn and I love the people there.

“No one wins from this. I just want UConn to get back to full football stadiums and get back to the XL Center with 14,000 people. We need to get back to that.”

Also playing in Wednesday’s Pro-Am were Boomer Esiason, Mark Teixeira, Tim Wakefield, Chris Berman, Doug Flutie, Josh Benet, Mike Cavanaugh, Nick Bonino, Brandel Chamblee, Mike Gorman, Trey Wingo, Randy Edsall, Dan Orlovsky, Bailey Mosier, Nancy Stevens, Angie Watson, Javier Colon, Dane DeHaan and George Lopez.