Jim Calhoun announced his retirement the way he did most things during his tenure at Connecticut: on his own terms.
After 40 seasons as a head coach, Calhoun called it a career on Thursday during a press conference at the school where he took a basketball program from relative obscurity and turned it into a national powerhouse.
"This dream could have only been accomplished through a collective effort," Calhoun said. "It took people and players from all over the country who believed that something special could happen here. They believed in us because when we said it, we believed it."
To many people, Jim Calhoun is Connecticut basketball, and rightfully so. The 70-year-old Hall of Famer took a program that had won just four NCAA Tournament games prior to his arrival and produced seven Big East tournament titles, four trips to the Final Four, and won national championships in 1999, 2004 and 2011.
"I think he did the best building job in the history of college basketball," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said during an ESPN interview on Thursday.
Calhoun will be succeeded by former UConn star Kevin Ollie, who signed a one-year deal on Thursday that will pay him $625,000 to coach the Huskies in 2012-13. Ollie had been an assistant under Calhoun for the past two seasons. It will be the first time since 1985 that someone other than Calhoun will start the season as the Connecticut men's basketball coach.
Despite maintaining a high level of success, his final years at Connecticut were among Calhoun's most tumultuous.
The Huskies are banned from participating in any 2013 postseason tournament because of low Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores. That ban comes just one year after Calhoun was suspended for the first three Big East games of the 2011-12 season due to NCAA recruiting violations. Calhoun has also dealt with a number of health issues in recent years, including a back injury that forced him to miss eight games last season.
"I judge myself by my players, the players who I've coached, and the coaching staffs I've worked with," Calhoun said. "I always tried to do the right thing."
Calhoun's 873 career wins place him sixth all-time among Division-I coaches. Of those 873 victories, 618 came during his tenure at Connecticut. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005.