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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    O’Neill reassigned as fundraiser

    Kevin ONeill looks for answers at a Feb. 19 press conference in McKale Center. ONeill, who served as the UA mens basketball interim head coach while Lute Olson was on a leave of absence, was reassigned as an assistant to athletic director Jim Livengood yesterday.
    Kevin O’Neill looks for answers at a Feb. 19 press conference in McKale Center. O’Neill, who served as the UA men’s basketball interim head coach while Lute Olson was on a leave of absence, was reassigned as an assistant to athletic director Jim Livengood yesterday.

    Kevin O’Neill has been removed from the UA men’s basketball staff and reassigned to a fundraising role within the athletics department for the remainder of the fiscal year, Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood announced yesterday.

    O’Neill, 51, served as the interim head coach for the Wildcats during the 2007-08 season while head coach Lute Olson took a personal leave of absence. O’Neill will be a “”special assistant”” to Livengood until at least June 30, when his contract expires and the situation will be reevaluated.

    “”After June 30, Kevin and I will sit down and decide what’s next,”” Livengood said.

    O’Neill didn’t return a phone call yesterday, but he made it clear over the course of last season that he plans on coaching at the collegiate or NBA level for at least another 25 years.

    Livengood said O’Neill’s contract, which was raised from $375,000 to $725,000 because he took the reins for Olson during his leave, will remain the same through the fiscal year.

    “”Nothing has changed with his salary,”” Livengood said. “”His salary is through June 30, anyway. Nothing has changed other than moving out of basketball and into a role as a special assistant.””

    Assistant coach contracts are signed on a year-to-year basis, but O’Neill had a verbal contract for next season. In December, Livengood announced O’Neill would succeed Olson, 73, when he retires.

    “”Mr. Livengood felt that for continuity in the program that he would name Kevin as my successor, and as the athletics director who was here every day he should be able to determine whether that was the case,”” Olson said in an April 1 press conference when announcing his return to head coaching duties after taking leave Nov. 4. “”He said, ‘Do you have any objection?’ I said, ‘No.'””

    But Olson went on to say O’Neill wouldn’t be returning to the program as an assistant coach, despite the verbal contract and the succession plan.

    O’Neill’s reassignment opens a vacancy on the men’s basketball staff but there isn’t any particular person lined up for the job yet, Livengood said.

    “”Right now, (we’re) just talking to a number of people,”” he said.

    Since reporting back to work March 24, Olson has been working with two assistants -ÿJosh Pastner and Miles Simon.

    Pastner said O’Neill’s reassignment doesn’t change his role as an assistant.

    “”Everything’s all the same with me, personally. It’s all good,”” Pastner said. “”Just hitting the recruiting trail, working with the (players), making sure they’re staying up in their academics and working in the community. Nothing changes for me at all.””

    As an interim coach, O’Neill led the Wildcats to a 19-15 record and a berth into the NCAA Tournament -ÿthe team’s 24th consecutive appearance.

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