AP Interview: Manuel says no coach-in-waiting

Associated Press Modified: May 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm •  Published: May 7, 2012
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STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut Athletic Director Warde Manuel said Monday he has no plans to name Kevin Ollie or anyone else as a coach-in-waiting for the men's basketball program.

Coach Jim Calhoun, who turns 70 this month, is expected to return next season, but has not made his final plans public.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, Manuel said he is operating under the assumption that the Hall of Fame coach will be back, noting that Calhoun has two years left on his contract.

"I don't sit here wondering on a day-to-day basis who is going to be my coach next year," Manuel said. "Unless something changes that I don't foresee ... Jim's our coach and I'm moving forward in that direction."

He would not disclose the conversations he and Calhoun have had about the future of the program, but said the plans don't currently include naming a successor while Calhoun is still coaching.

A coach in waiting has been suggested as a way to bridge the gap between administrations, and assure potential recruits of continuity in the program. Ollie, who played at UConn and spent 13 seasons in the NBA, before being hired as an assistant in 2010, has been mentioned as a logical successor, and has said he would want the job.

"Jim's going to participate in the future direction of the program when he decides that he's not going to coach anymore," Manuel said. "But at this time, I haven't made a commitment to a coach in waiting. That doesn't mean that in the future I wouldn't change my position. But right now, I'm not naming a coach in waiting for men's basketball or any program."

Calhoun said he's fine with that decision.

"Warde and I are on the same page," he said in a telephone interview Monday evening. "We're both working for the success of this basketball program."

Asked if he had made a final decision to return or was leaning toward coming back, Calhoun said, "I'm not leaning on anything right now, I'm working. I've got a recruit on campus right now and another one coming in this week and I think, quite frankly, we've had a pretty good 25-year run, and I'm working as hard as I can to make sure this school has another good 25 years."

Manuel acknowledged that hiring a new basketball coach would likely be one of his biggest decisions as the school's athletic director. A former football player at Michigan, Manuel compared Calhoun to Bo Schembechler. He said as Schembechler did in Ann Arbor, Calhoun has earned the right to help shape the direction of UConn's basketball future.

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