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Long-time UConn Basketball Coach Calhoun to Retire

By JIM O’CONNELL AP College Basketball Writer
NEW YORK September 13, 2012 (AP)

Connecticut men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun is retiring and plans to announce his decision on Thursday, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made public.

Assistant coach Kevin Ollie was expected to replace Calhoun, the person said.

Calhoun led the UConn program from obscurity to three national championships, but has struggled recently with health issues, including a fractured hip last month that has forced him to come to work on crutches.

The 70-year-old Calhoun won 873 games in 40 years as a head coach, first at Northeastern and the last 26 years at UConn, and put four teams in the Final Four, winning national titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011.

Calhoun, who was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005, is a three-time cancer survivor and missed eight games last season while suffering from a painful spinal condition. He returned just four days after having back surgery to coach the Huskies in their regular-season finale and the postseason.

UConn finished the year 20-14, losing to Iowa State in the first-round of the NCAA tournament. The Huskies are ineligible for next year’s NCAA and Big East tournaments because of poor academic performance.

In addition to his medical leave, Calhoun served a three-game suspension at the start of the Big East season last winter for failing to maintain an atmosphere of compliance in his program, an issued that dated back to recruiting violations in 2008.

Then, last month, he underwent successful surgery to repair a left hip fracture from a bicycle accident. He was cycling near his summer home in Madison when he hit sand and fell, hours before he was to coach former players in a charity game.

Calhoun, a native of Braintree, Mass., played college basketball at American International in Springfield, where he was a team captain and leading scorer his junior and senior years.

After graduating in 1968, he began his head coaching career at Old Lyme High school, before moving back to Massachusetts where he coached at Westport High School and then Dedham High School.

After leading Dedham to a 21-1 record in 1972, he was hired as head coach at Northeastern.

Calhoun spent the next 14 years at the school, leading the team from Division II program, to a mid-major power with five appearances in the NCAA tournament.

Calhoun was then hired by UConn in May 1986 and won an NIT title in his second season. His teams won 10 Big East regular-season championships and seven Big East Tournament titles over his tenure.

In 1999, he coached the Huskies to a 34-2 record and their first NCAA championship, a 77-74 upset over Duke.

In 2004, the Huskies started and ended the season at No. 1, beating Georgia Tech in the NCAA championship game 82-73. The Huskies, led by Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon, won their six tournament games by an average of over 17 points.

In 2011, UConn finished the regular season in ninth place in the Big East before reeling off a remarkable 11-consecutive wins during the postseason, including a 53-41 victory over Butler in the national championship game.

Calhoun’s only loss in the Final Four came in 2009 to Michigan State in the national semifinals. The coach missed the Huskies’ first NCAA tournament game that season after being hospitalized for dehydration.

 

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