HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel says Connecticut has earned the right to host the American Athletic Conference’s two basketball tournaments next year.
Manuel appeared Friday with AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, UConn basketball coach Kevin Ollie and others at the XL Center to promote the move of the men’s tournament from Memphis, Tennessee to Hartford’s aging arena. The arena will undergo $35 million in renovations this summer.
The conference last month awarded the tournament to Hartford for 2015. It will move to Orlando, Florida for 2016 and 2017. The women’s tournament will stay at the Mohegan Sun arena in Uncasville, where it was played in March.
“We’ve had the success we’ve had in both men’s and women’s basketball,” Manuel said. “So, I don’t see it as a gift. It’s something that we have earned. It’s something that the fans have earned. It’s something that the state has earned. I just think they looked at the value of having it here in Connecticut.”
Manuel and Ollie both said they are continuing to negotiate a new contract for the coach and have no deadline. Ollie’s current deal, worth just under $7 million, runs through the end of the 2017-18 season. He made just over $1.6 million, with bonuses for the NCAA tournament run, last season.
Ollie’s name has been linked to several NBA job openings, including with the Los Angeles Lakers. He acknowledged that he has received calls about other jobs, and did not shut the door on the possibility of taking another offer, but said he hopes to stay in Storrs.
“Them guys are persistent and they keep calling, no matter what I say,” Ollie said.
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