In 2005, Jim Calhoun was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.
The induction came while Calhoun was still coaching at UConn, following the Huskies’ 2004 National Championship. Six years later in 2011, UConn would win it all again, once again under the continued guidance of their long-time head coach.
On Wednesday evening, word emerged that Calhoun was set to announce his retirement and at a Thursday afternoon press conference from the university campus in Storrs, Connecticut, it became official.
Calhoun began coaching at Northeastern in 1972, before taking the job at UConn in 1986. In 26 seasons at Connecticut, Calhoun earned his Hall of Fame nomination in becoming one of college basketball’s most coveted and winningest coaches.
Calhoun guided Northeastern to four America East championships in his final five seasons in Boston. An original native of Brookline, Massachusetts, Calhoun raised the UConn program to new heights, continuously putting the Huskies in the national spotlight.
Three national championships, one NIT championship, four Final Four appearances, seven Big East Tournament titles, and nine Big East regular season crowns later, Calhoun has decided to move forward after an incredible coaching career.
On Thursday afternoon, the university announced that assistant coach Kevin Ollie would take over the program, extending a one-year offer for the 2012-13 season. Calhoun had been very high on wanting Ollie to replace him in the past. Ollie played under Calhoun for four seasons from 1991-1995 before a lengthy, 15-year career in the NBA.
Throughout his career, Calhoun battled opponents on the court and health problems off the court. Calhoun beat prostate cancer in 2003 and was forced to take unrelated medical leaves during both the 2010 and 2012 seasons. Just last month, Calhoun fractured his hip in bicycle accident that has forced a current 2-3 month recovery.
While the bicycle accident and recovery may be playing a factor in Calhoun’s decision to retire, the 70-year old felt the time was right to move forward.
After winning the 2011 National Championship, thanks in large part to the star production of former UConn guard Kemba Walker, Calhoun could have retired on top. However, the return of so much talent in 2011-12 ultimately led him back to Storrs last season. The Huskies began the season with back-to-back title aspirations, but a disappointing stretch in Big East play ultimately doomed the Huskies.
Now, with the NCAA ruling in relation to low APR scores in place, UConn is banned from the 2013 postseason, a factor that Ollie will now have to deal with in 2012-13. The Huskies lost both Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb to the NBA Draft, while both Alex Oriakhi (Missouri) and Roscoe Smith (UNLV) to transfer.
After an illustrious coaching career, Ollie will look to take the program forward, a program that Calhoun has helped build and raise to national prominence for nearly a quarter of a century.
A Hall of Famer by the book, a Hall of Famer to the success of UConn, Big East and college basketball as a whole, Jim Calhoun will go down as one of the top contributors to his sport and the university.
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