Kevin Ollie won’t go to Indy for the men’s NCAA Final Four games, despite the fact that his UConn Huskies are the defending national champions.
Traditionally, coaches from school across the country head to the town where the national championship is played in order to attend the National Association of Basketball Coaches convention. This year, the convention will run Thursday through Monday, but Ollie and his assistant coaches won’t be in Indy.
The decision was made not to go to Indy after Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Monday a ban for state employees planning to travel to Indiana. Malloy’s ban came in response to a controversial law passed in the state last week. According to critics of that legislation, called Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the law could negatively impact gays and lesbians.
The news that the UConn men’s basketball staff won’t go to Indy came Tuesday night in a statement issued by UConn President Susan Herbst. Before the travel ban handed down by Malloy, Ollie and his staff had planned to attend the NABC conference and the surrounding Final Four events.
“In support of Governor Malloy’s travel ban to the state of Indiana, Kevin Ollie and other members of the UConn men’s basketball staff will not travel to Indianapolis for the NCAA Final Four and events surrounding it,” Herbst said in the statement. “UConn is a community that values all of our members and treats each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of their background and beliefs and we will not tolerate any other behavior.”
Since making the announcement that the staff won’t go to Indy, Ollie has been called out by critics, who have said university officials would be singing a different tune if the team had actually qualified for the Final Four.
Instead, after finishing the 2013-2014 season with a 32-8 record and winning the national championship, the 2014-2015 men’s Huskies didn’t get invited to the NCAA championship tournament. They finished the 2014-2015 season with a 20-15 record.
The travel ban issued by Malloy prevents state employees from having expenses paid while traveling to Indy on official state business. The University of Connecticut is a public state university.
Malloy, who has been outspoken about the law, has condemned Indiana’s law as “disturbing, disgraceful and outright discriminatory.”
On Monday, Malloy said during a press conference that he wanted to speak out against the law before the Final Four events began in hopes that he would prevent people from traveling to Indy.
“What I think would be cowardly for me to have done would be to wait until the tournament was over,” Malloy said during a press conference. “Somebody’s got to stand up to this kind of bigotry, and I’m prepared to do it.”
With the announcement from the University of Connecticut, Kevin Ollie and his staff have shown that they’re prepared to stand behind Malloy, which is why they’ve decided that they won’t go to Indy.
[Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]