Jim Calhoun officially Thursday as head coach of the 's men's basketball team.
“I always said that I would know when it was time, whenever that might be,” said Calhoun, in a prepared statement. “The hip injury really didn’t enter into the decision, except that it gave me more time to think about it and the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that this was the right time to move on to the next phase of my life," he said.
Over on the Storrs campus, students .
“I’m actually a little surprised of it,” said UConn senior Lisette Espinal, of Waterbury. “I wasn’t even aware he was retiring,” she said.
Calhoun, 70, finishes his career with 873 career wins, and three national titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011.
“He made my freshmen experience totally different when we won the national championship,” Christy Barre, a junior from Fairfield said. “It was a blast. I was really happy to be a part of UConn then.”
Calhoun will continue with the university as a Special Assistant to Athletic Director Warde Manuel, university officials said Thursday.
Upon his full retirement in March of 2013, Calhoun will become Head Coach Emeritus, the university said.
Kevin Ollie, a former UConn student-athlete and men's basketball assistant coach for the past two seasons, has been named the new head coach - the 18th in UConn history.
“I am very honored and humbled to become the UConn men’s basketball coach,” Ollie said in a prepared statement Thursday. “I cannot put into words how grateful I am to Coach Jim Calhoun, who retires today as one of the most legendary coaches in the history of college basketball. Coach Calhoun brought me here to Connecticut as a person right out of high school and has mentored me into the person I have become today."
UConn students seemed pleased with the news.
“I don’t think the program will skip a beat,” said freshmen Owen McMahon, of Thomaston.
Although students appeared to have confidence in Ollie, many said the absence of Calhoun would take some getting used to.
“[Calhoun] was definitely an asset to the UConn team,” Alexis Ruiz, a senior from Bergenfield, NJ, said. “He contributed a lot,” she said.
“He was a phenomenal, phenomenal coach and it’s a shame to see him go,” David Friedman, a junior from Dix Hills, NY, said.