Summitt says Auriemma knew reasons

UConn coach was told in May why UT canceled series

The Tennessee-Connecticut women's basketball series might be over, but the rivalry between UConn coach Geno Auriemma and UT's Pat Summitt isn't.

Auriemma offered his first published comments about Tennessee's decision to end the regular-season series between the two schools Monday in a copyrighted story in the Hartford Courant. He indicated there were a lot of unanswered questions surrounding Summitt's reasons for the decision.

Summitt fired back later Monday, offering her most telling comments since it became known in June that the series was ending after a 13-season run. Summitt said that she and Auriemma had a telephone conversation in May and that she made her reasons for cancelling the series clear to him.

"Clearly Geno knows why I canceled the series,'' said Summitt, who said that she spoke with Auriemma in late May, shortly before attending the SEC spring meetings in Sandestin, Fla. "I made it very clear to him in a phone conversation. I wanted to make sure I had a conversation with Geno and explained very specifically why I canceled the series.

"I chose to tell Geno because I felt it was something I needed to tell him, not to share it with the rest of the world."

Summitt did not offer any further specifics regarding her reasons. The decision is believed to revolve around the recruitment of highly regarded prospect Maya Moore, who signed with the Huskies and is beginning her freshman year at the school. The frosty relationship between the two coaches also was thought to be a factor.

Summitt said that the Lady Vols made no allegations surrounding former UConn stars Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird offering Moore, then a high school junior in suburban Atlanta, a ride to the 2006 Naismith Award presentation in Atlanta. This originally was reported in the Courant. A source told the newspaper that Connecticut had to produce documents proving Taurasi's and Bird's whereabouts in April, 2006. Both players were overseas, playing for a Russian team in the European championships.

Summitt said her first knowledge of the allegation was when the Courant story was reprinted in the July 7 edition of the News Sentinel.

"I didn't know what they were talking about,'' Summitt said. "I knew nothing about that until I read it in the Sentinel. That had nothing to do with my decision."

Tennessee versus Connecticut began as a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup on July 16, 1995. The teams' last meeting was Tennessee's 70-64 victory in Hartford on Jan. 6.

Last spring, the Women's Basketball Coaches Association voted the game the greatest women's basketball rivalry.

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Comments » 33

DroopyDrawers writes:

Coach Summitt showed that she is a class act. Geno is same ole Geno, a jackass.

Basketball_Jones writes:

This sucks fro womens basketball. I mean as a fan ofsports in general you love to see good rivalries go at it. Yanks/Sox, Michigan/OSU, Tennessee/Florida, and so on, it makes for a better ball game. If we replace this game with UT vs Tennessee Tech c'mon! I'm sure Pat had her reasons and how can you question her from what she's done over the years, but I will miss this game and I am not a womens basketball fan

jdcdjc#246285 writes:

I have been a Lady Vols fan for many years and I know Pat does not have to justify this with the public, but I would like her to just come out and tell us the real reason. If it is the Moore recruitment or something else. Without knowing for sure, I just have to think Geno and or his staff did something pretty bad during the Moore recruitment.

CrankE writes:

http://www.courant.com/sports/college...

Geno indicates that there are a lot of unanswered questions. Actually, there's only one question. And Since Pat called him, he already knows the answer.

Pat won't say because it's between the two of them.

Geno won't say because... Hmmm, why WON'T Geno say? My gut feeling is that the answer would put the spotlight onto something at UCONN that he'd rather not have illuminated.

And so as Geno answers, he turns it all around onto Pat. It's not about me, it's about her. In his response to the Courant, Geno muddies the waters, talks about the rumor mill, about a "source close" to the situation, then attributes all of that to Pat. (Which then, she's supposed to respond to and deny or something.) The gymnastics of his answer here have got to score in the high 9's.

Pat's best option may be to offer no comment on Geno until forever. Geno makes better press than Pat so they'll continue to bug him. Let him fume and rant.

callen825#321558 writes:

Too bad...this has always been a good game, and all the hype has made it even better! They will be seeing each other in post season play, to be sure.

hueypilot writes:

This is Geno's closing quote in the Hartford Courant article mentioned above. "There aren't many relevant games played in women's basketball each season." That's a pretty strange thing for a head coach to say, don't you think?

Pullingguard writes:

A game that drew National Interest and a game good for womens basketball.. There had to be a reason for the cancellation of this game, and a reason probably not known to many...however, one must think if had to do with recruting, for it seems Gino secured the better of this years recruiting. Vols wanted Maya Moore very badly. Win some lose some, it's part of the game.

CrankE writes:

huey, Geno may be speaking to the "relevant games" that UC plays-which is basically UT and maybe 1 or 2 others. UT on the other hand-in addition to playing the SEC perennially goes after the name schools. Texas, UNC, Duke, La Tech, etc.

This change hurts UC worse than it does UT. Which is precisely why Geno is the one doing the ranting while Pat sits quietly. By tarring Summitt, he's hoping for two things. First that all of the attention will be deflected away from himself and from UC and onto Summitt. Second, he'd really love nothing better than for Pat to change her mind. On the one hand he says that he wouldn't renew the series now. But on the other hand, it's such a bummer to lose this relevant game. He'd sign the contract in a heartbeat. So which is it, Geno? Who's the one changing stories here?

I think Geno is, by his own answers demonstrating to us exactly why this series was cancelled by how he's handling the issue.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

guys (and ladies), I think this may have content that is not what women's basketball wishes to publicize. My gut feel is that it may have to do with 'inappropriate relationships' of some sort that is possilby happening in a repeated fashion with multiple recruits.

That Pat will not specify indicates to me that it is something going on with the UC program. She is leaving it to UC to decide how or if they will actually address and release information.

watchdog writes:

I don't care one bit why we canceled the UConn series; we don't strictly "need" the game. Once upon a time, we were a lot more limited in who we could schedule if we wanted to play top-notch opposition. Now that's just not true any more, just as it's not true that you have to play Tennessee to find a quality opponent.

Tennessee-UConn has done a ton to develop the game, but now you can play UNC or Duke or Stanford or any of a bunch of others, and have yourself a good game - and that's not even touching in-conference foes, like those LSU folks who knocked UConn out of the tourney last year.

Will I miss playing Geno and company? Sure. I love seeing us compete at the highest level possible, and UConn is still a great program. But I don't think we'll suffer any lack of "relevant" opponents for dropping UConn from the schedule.

JOF20 writes:

Pat can do whatever she wants whenever she wants. 7 Championships says it all.

Geno who?

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

something else as well. does the rivalry game help ut or uc more? I'd think uc.

I can't argue that UC has had great players. Diana T was maybe the greatest ever. However, it doesn't make sense to hold onto somtething that is obviously causing Pat to be uncomfortable.

fortandrews writes:

Let's move on to another subject, since the REAL answer may never be known. Just think about the PR out of this situation - UT WILL play UC again in the near future and there will not be a gym large enough to hold the crowd. And we all know who will win that game. Hang in there Pat.

DSaVol writes:

Must be a VERY slow news day...

Volfan4everr writes:

Pat Summitt does not need to explain anything to anyone, especially Geno. If they are as good as Geno thinks they are, then get to the final four and they will get a shot at the Lady Vols. A word to the wise Geno - Don't p_ss her off.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

Volfan4everr:

don't piss her off? that's what he has done forever!!!! that is his style, to try to get into her head and throw her off.

the kids on the floor win or lose. I UConn can shoot the ball, they may be better than us. We shot horribly last year in big games.

If you go back and watch the final, Nicky saved our butts big time. She should've co-mvped that game.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

you know, just thinking....
who knows what the freshmen will truly bring. Let's assume nothing, since we don't know.

What that means is the Vols have to replace Spencer's tough play, and they have to get Hornbuckle to (finally) be a team player and to quit taking wild shots at critical times. I do like our post players a lot, and the bench puts in some good minutes.

Yep, more I think about it, Hornbuckle may by the key to a repeat. Here's hoping she's grown up and gets it done!!!

bpvol#216873 writes:

Not to long ago their was Uconn fans on our sight blasting Pat for ending this game.

Now comes the rest of the story....Pat called Geno to tell him WHY she was cancelling the series

Hint: Pat is cancelling the series....Why would she do that. UC is obviously still a great program and still in the top eschelon of womens teams...and Pat consistently plays the top teams.

Their has to be some type of problem that Pat is uncomfortable with continuing....and because she is nothing but class, she calls him and leaves it at that. No other press, etc.

Even the Uconn folks admitted that Geno lacks class.

I said it a few weeks ago and now its confirmed.
Pat has her reasons and maybe when she has retired and writes a book... we will know the answer, but for now it just her and Geno....

kjneel#238751 writes:

You know UT will meet UCONN in the tourney this year. They selection peeps will make SURE they do! and it will be the highest rated game ever. The Result...a UT beat down on Geno the Jackass.

knoxtenor writes:

We have to remember that Pat didn't have the final say-so in this decision: it was up to the university.

Let's face it, college athletic programs are big, greedy, corporations that cowtow to the almighty dollar, and UT is certainly no exception. For the university to end what was probably THE most profitable women's basketball endeavour in the sport's history--and, locally, certainly on par with UT-Fla football in hype--even the hallowed Pat Summit would be poo-poohed unless she had some really valid, cogent, logical reasons for discontinuing the series.

Obviously, the reasons for this decision are so potentially damaging to both programs that neither coach and neither university wants them made public.

And I would think that, as a money-grubbing corporation, the NCAA would not approve any decision like this unless the potential loss far outweighed the future potential profit.

bpvol#216873 writes:

Wew, while I agree overall with your comment. I do believe that Pat has more input than what you might think.

As schools have become greater powers in Womens basketball, Pat puts them on our schedule. On the flip side, when they fall back on hard times, they are removed...

If we get a top recruit from a distant state, all of a sudden, an opponent from that state appears on the schedule sometime in the next 4 years....

Lastly, while some coaches parlay not to schedule top opponents and others, like Pat do, that is against the potential revenues that would be garnered by playing the better school.

You could argue that most of the moves are good for the program, revenues, etc. some are questionable....I believe that is where Pat has major influence, more so than just monetary considerations.

Yea, I agree that the UT/UC parting might have been related to something very damaging to both schools, but I don't downplay the impact Pats opinion had on the final decision...

andefromtn#212139 writes:

I remember when the Lady Vols' main rival was La Tech, Old Dominion or Auburn but when those programs waned and other schools, UConn, and Stanford, began to excel then UT slowly alter their schedule. UConn hasn't waned as of yet but other schools have joined the mix at the top. The ACC is a power house league and a natural rival league against our SEC, Lady Vols. Duke, NC, or Maryland are all top schools right now. National rivalaries are exciting but regional and conference rivalaries are even better. No other college or university has managed the longevity of UT's success.

arkyvol writes:

regardless of who's at fault for this happening, there's no question that women's basketball is all the poorer for it. when pat decided to cut it back to one game per season rather than two a few ago, geno should have recognized that as a warning. on the other hand, i don't think that when she is no longer coaching, this will be remembered as one of pat's better decisions. as a fan of women's basketball in general, and the lady vols in particular, i will miss the hell out of those games.

mungie314 writes:

Good for you Pat!! Let Geno, the female assistant pusher, [during a game last year Geno pushed an assistant of his],look elsewhere to bolster his RPI and SOS. Pat schedules a tough season every year. Geno is trying to control Pat by making her say why she ended it. Pat is too strong and smart for that, Let Geno say it on national TV.

AirForceVol writes:

Pat is one thing that Geno will never be.........the best coach in the history of the women's game. If he doesn't like us ending the series I think he should cry about it. This just in.....he already did, although you have to pay close attention to catch it amidst all the other crying he does. 7 BIG BOY!

MissUT writes:

I have been on the message boards for the Hartford Courant, and the fans up there are brutal...they think it's all Pat's fault, and we are scared to play Geno....it's unbelievable the things posted about Pat, our team, our school, our fans...it's close to slander!

I back Pat Summitt in her decision to stop this yearly game. We have trusted her with this program for 33 years, so why should we question her now...She knows exactly what she is doing and why. I don't feel that she owes anyone an explanation for her decision.

GO LADY VOLS!!

MissUT writes:

Just a thought for the upcoming season........

GO FOR 8 IN '08! GO LADY VOLS!

sgtvols writes:

Pat, thank you for dropping Conn. I have long wondered whay we play such a tuff schedule during the season and then have to beat the same teams in the tournement. Last 2 years have proved that it doesn't matter who you beat it matters more how much you beat nobodys/ The SEC is tuff enough, win the SEC, lose no more that 3 games and you get a # 1 seed. I got a couple of more you can drop from the schedule.

Timed_vol (Inactive) writes:

geno is a jerk and a great promoter (in a negative way)

I would never, ever question his ability to coach. to do so would be to diminish ut, as ut has not had an easy time with uccnn by any stretch.

I'd say this: you know that Pat isn't scared. You also know she'd probably rather play the game, for two reasons: 1) to toughen her kids and 2) to see frist-hand a potential ncaaw foe.

For her to cancel goes to a really basic concern, most likely with recruiting practices.

One fianl thought: I'm betting Geno is more worried about the truth 'outing' than Pat is (duh, right???)

Seasontickets writes:

As a season ticket holder I would like to see the best possible games on the schedule. With Uconn we had that.

manateemo writes:

this will come down to Auriemma and his book. He made some left handed comments about his seperation of family life from Basketball. check it out.

PS both programs are hard drive programs reflecting the styles of both coaches. neither will be cannonize saints upon retirement and their personalities are similar but Auriemma is more vocal

uconnfan1 writes:

geno didn't cry when tennessee had parker.

finpat1959#1419108 writes:

Who cares now. It happened a long time ago and both teams have moved on. UConn just won their 8th National Championship and Pat has retired as UT Coach. Perhaps Holly and Geno will agree to a new contract. I was hoping they would meet in the Final Four, but Louisville pulled off the 3 greatest victories in women's basketball beating Baylor, TN and Cal and then lost to UConn in the Final Four. Move on vol fans, UConn fans have.

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