UConn's hiring of Sal Alosi was questioned early on. Now the school faces a lawsuit.

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This photo taken in 2009 shows Sal Alosi of the New York Jets. Alosi, the Jets' strength and conditioning coach, said at a news conference at the practice facility Monday Dec. 13, 2010 that he had not yet received any discipline from the team or the NFL, nor had he personally spoken to the league. He also said he had not offered to resign. Alosi tripped a Miami Dolphins player on the sideline during a game Sunday. (AP Photo)

This photo taken in 2009 shows Sal Alosi of the New York Jets. Alosi, the Jets' strength and conditioning coach, said at a news conference at the practice facility Monday Dec. 13, 2010 that he had not yet received any discipline from the team or the NFL, nor had he personally spoken to the league. He also said he had not offered to resign. Alosi tripped a Miami Dolphins player on the sideline during a game Sunday. (AP Photo)

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In social media posts over the past year, former UConn strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi seemed to cast doubt on many of the COVID-19 protocols that have been in place throughout most of the country since mid-March 2020.

In one Twitter post, Alosi linked a story from the Planet Free Will website that stated face masks caused biological changes in men. Alosi also retweeted a statement that COVID-19 vaccines would change people’s DNA and that anyone getting vaccinated was a “test dummy.”

So there was some irony that Alosi has filed a lawsuit against UConn alleging that he was terminated from his job in June 2020 because, he claims, he did not want to administer a training plan set forth by coach Dan Hurley that didn’t comply with both NCAA and UConn COVID-19 training guidelines and protocols. The lawsuit outlines an ongoing rift between Alosi and Hurley, and alleges that UConn did not follow procedural guidelines when dismissing him.

“Sal agrees with following the rules. That’s that,” Alosi’s attorney, Ryan O’Neill, told Hearst Connecticut Media Friday. “Whatever he feels for himself, personally, he certainly wasn’t going to let that affect the way that he took care of his players. He takes that really seriously. What he feels for himself was not germane or relevant to what he was going to be doing for his players. He was focused on following the rules and making sure that they were safe and healthy.”

The lawsuit is just the latest chapter in a career spotted with controversy. Before arriving at UConn in 2018, Alosi made news for an altercation with entertainer Sean “P. Diddy” Combs while working at UCLA and for tripping an opposing player during a day while working for the New York Jets. But as UConn announced the hiring, Hurley praised Alosi for his “proven history of success in the field of strength, conditioning and nutrition.”

Alosi was dismissed in June 2020, although his departure was not made public until UConn later hired Mike Rehfeldt.

Alosi filed the complaint in December. UConn filed a motion to dismiss on technical grounds in February and a hearing on the motion took place Thursday in Rockville Superior Court. Judge James Sicilian did not immediately rule on the motion.

“Any implication that Sal Alosi was forced to violate health and safety protocols is categorically false,” UConn said in a statement. “Beyond that we are unable to comment on this personnel matter.”

O’Neill, who works for the Law Offices of Mark Sherman in Stamford, said that Alosi “didn’t want it to come to this.”

“He just wanted his fair compensation after being railroaded out of UConn,” O’Neill told Hearst Connecticut. “But UConn has repeatedly refused to engage with us, won’t review our evidence, and haven’t given any evidence of their own. Instead, the double-talk continues. They say ‘no truth’ in public, but hide behind legal technicalities in court. Mr. Alosi is eager to have the ‘truth’ revealed in the courtroom.”

Alosi’s complaint contends that Hurley wanted his players to be bigger and stronger “even if it meant bending or breaking rules designed to ensure fair play and student-athlete safety.” The lawsuit says that the “straw that broke the camel’s back” occurred in late-June 2020, when UConn began preparing for staff and players to return to campus after the pandemic had shut things down for over three months.

Alosi says he grew concerned because the plan did not comply with COVID training protocols that had been issued by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, the College Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, as well as UConn’s own university-wide guidelines for athletics training.

Alosi contends that Hurley told him those guidelines didn’t apply to the basketball team, and that athletic director David Benedict agreed.

On June 23, Alosi was given a “Notice for Non-Renewal” letter by UConn, ending his employment with the school. In the complaint, O’Neill refers to it as a “Sham Non-Renewal Notice,” because it was executed after Alosi’s two-year contract had expired on May 28, 2020, and that, per a collective bargaining agreement, UConn was required to give 300 days’ notice for any non-renewal decisions.

The school contended that 60-days’ notice was required.

Alosi was hired by UConn on May 28, 2018, with some baggage. In 2015, while Alosi was strength coach for the UCLA football team, he got in a fight with Combs. Combs allegedly tried to hit Alosi in the head with a weight after Alosi was riding Combs’ son, Justin, during a workout. Combs was arrested on suspicion of felony assault but insisted that Alosi was the true aggressor.

In 2010, while Alosi was strength and conditioning coach with the New York Jets, he tripped Miami’s Nolan Carroll during a punt return from the sideline and was fined $25,000. It later came out that Alosi had ordered players to stand close to the field during opponents’ returns as a form of intimidation or impediment.

There were also reports from Alosi’s time with the Jet — he allegedly had a fistfight with star Darrelle Revis, and he was accused of humiliating a female chiropractor and preventing her from working with players.

As a student at Hofstra — where he played football — Alosi was charged with third-degree assault for allegedly breaking into a dorm room with several teammates to assault three students and he would plead guilty to a reduced charge of harassment.

Yet Alosi’s checkered past did not deter UConn from hiring him.

“A guy like Sal and his personality as a coach and the standard he sets for our program … where we’re at, he was a great, great fit,” Hurley told Hearst Connecticut’s Jeff Jacobs after the hiring. “We were a team that wasn’t very physical last year, a little bit soft at times. It doesn’t look to pass the eye test.”

Asked about Alosi’s past, Hurley said, “There are some things in his career that he addressed with us when we brought him in. It felt comfortable this was a guy that has experienced a lot of things like we all have and has learned a great deal from his experiences.”

Since being fired by UConn, Alosi has moved with his family to Arizona and is currently running a private gym.

Alosi’s situation is hardly the only legal situation UConn athletics currently finds itself in. There is the seemingly never-ending Kevin Ollie situation, in which the former head coach is trying to recoup the nearly $11 million left on his contract when he was fired in March, 2018, and is also accusing the university of racial bias. And there is the UConn women’s rowing team, which recently won a temporary restraining order from being eliminated as part of the athletics program’s attempt to cut costs, which included the elimination of four men’s programs.

Hurley told reporters last summer that his players did numerous workouts outside on the field hockey field, and that indoor practices were very limited, with strict protocols — players working individually or in small groups, on separate ends of the floor, etc. — in place.

Hurley himself has been described as somewhat of a germophobe, even wearing gloves during practices prior to the COVID-19 shutdown and taking precautions like wearing a mask and gloves while shopping at local supermarkets.

He did receive some public criticism during the past season for pulling down his mask too often during games, and on Dec. 29, openly questioned why he had to wear a mask while the players and some referees weren’t wearing them, and while the team was essentially living in a bubble and being tested multiple times a week, an no fans allowed at games.