Evan Habeeb-US PRESSWIRE
The name, Jim Calhoun, is a name that has rung through the collegiate and professional basketball world for more than a few generations now.
Calhoun never really left the New England area coaching wise. He had stints at Northeastern and University of Connecticut where he collected an astonishing 866 wins to propel him as one of the greatest college coaches to ever play/coach the game.
He boasted remarkable 50-19 record in the postseason, meaning that at “March Madness” he was expected to win 73 percent of the time. 625 wins are from UConn where he ran the Men’s basketball program for 26 years and won three national titles.
Due to recent health problems and disabling hip injuries, he planned to announce his retirement this week, a person familiar with Calhoun told the press among other outlets.
Assistant coach and former guard for the Philadelphia 76ers
, Kevin Ollie
, was expected to replace Calhoun, the person who spoke to the press had said. The University of Connecticut scheduled a news conference “to address the future of the men’s basketball program” for Thursday afternoon.
However, Ollie will be adopting a team filled with off-court problems. He will take over a Huskies team that is ineligible for the 2013 NCAA tournament due to failure to uphold NCAA academic agreements among other issues that plagued Calhoun late in his career’s tenure.
Calhoun has had a history of injury sitting behind a coaches’ desk. Before fracturing his hip, Calhoun had a terrible fight with cancer three times and missed multiple games last season while suffering from a spinal condition. He returned just four days after having back surgery to finish coaching the Huskies in their regular-season finale and for the postseason.
UConn finished the year 20-14, losing to Iowa State in the first-round of the NCAA tournament.
Just like his coaching career, Calhoun was born and raised in New England. Calhoun played college basketball at American International in Springfield, Mass, where he was a team captain and leading scorer his last two years.
After graduating in 1968 and having a successful career coaching high school basketball and was hired as head coach at Northeastern University.
Calhoun’s only came across one loss in the Final Four in his entire career. In 2009 Michigan State upset the Huskies in the national semifinals on their way to a national championship. The coach missed the teams’ first NCAA tournament game that season while being hospitalized for cases involving dehydration.
This was one of several health issues that plagued his great career. Calhoun missed 29 games, and left another 11 because of illness. These were games that the Huskies truly missed their Hall of Fame coach.
In the Spring of 2010, the program was cited by the NCAA for eight major violations. The allegations came at the end of a 15-month investigation into the recruiting of former players that brought negative attention to the program.
The accusations surrounding UConn, led to the resignations of two assistants, and a promise from Calhoun, himself, to “make things right”. He told reporters that he needed to bring closure to the program, which led him to come back after the 2011 championship season saying that issue was a “major, major factor.”
Moreover, Calhoun faced criticism for his team’s performance
in the classroom when the Huskies failed to qualify academically for the 2013 NCAA tournament under sanctions passed in the fall of 2011.
Ollie, Calhoun’s expected successor, played at UConn and spent 13 seasons in the NBA
. Ollie played six seasons with the 76ers, two with the Orlando Magic
, and one year appearances with over five other NBA franchises, before being hired as an assistant in 2010. He has been rumored to want the job.
Ollie played in 662 games in the NBA & started in 99 games as well. He averaged 3.8 points and 2.3 assists per game in 13 years in the league. After playing under Calhoun during his college career, Ollie has expressed, paraphrasing, “that it would be more than an honor to follow in his footsteps.”
Even among all of his spinal surgeries and cancer encounters, Calhoun is well known for his support of many charities. Calhoun raised millions to help build the Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center at the UConn Health Center.
In his absence, the UConn basketball program will suffer however they will be a force in the Big East given a few years to recover. Looking at Calhoun, he will go down as one of the greatest coaches in NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball history. He has won 28 championships in his coaching career and given way to dozens of NBA players. Jim Calhoun is a staple in Men’s basketball history. Believe that.