Auriemma: Lady Vols quit UConn series over recruiting gripe

Updated: April 24, 2008, 3:32 AM ET
Associated Press

STORRS, Conn. -- Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said the regular-season series against rival Tennessee was canceled because Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt accused the Huskies of a recruiting violation.

Auriemma, speaking to reporters on campus Tuesday, said Summitt "doesn't have the courage to say it publicly."

UConn officials said in March they self-reported a secondary violation of NCAA rules in connection with a 2005 ESPN studio tour that the women's basketball office arranged for then-top recruit Maya Moore.

Tennessee canceled the 12-year series with UConn last summer, even though UConn had already signed a contract to extend the annual game through the 2008-09 season.

Summitt had said ending the series would let the schools develop other rivalries. Auriemma said if she wouldn't explain why the series ended, he would.

"Pat knows ... So she should just tell you why instead of saying, 'Geno knows.' I do know," he said Tuesday. "I already told you. She accused us of cheating at recruiting. She doesn't have the courage to say it publicly. So yeah, Geno does know. And I've said it."

Pat knows ... So she should just tell you why instead of saying, 'Geno knows.' I do know. I already told you. She accused us of cheating at recruiting. She doesn't have the courage to say it publicly. So yeah, Geno does know. And I've said it.

--Geno Auriemma

Summitt declined comment Wednesday. Summitt, the winningest coach in Division I college basketball, guided the Lady Vols to their eighth NCAA title with a win over Stanford earlier this month.

The Huskies lost to Stanford in the Final Four.

"It doesn't hurt me," Auriemma said about the series ending. "Some people, that's just their style, they're passive-aggressive. Always wanting someone else to blame for what's going on."

ESPN reported last month that Tennessee had complained to Southeastern Conference officials about the tour, but Tennessee and SEC representatives would not address the reports.

Penalties for secondary rules violations are usually minor and can include a letter in the school's file.

At the time of the ESPN tour Moore, the two-time national high school player of the year from Georgia, was courted by several high-profile programs, including Tennessee.

Moore signed with UConn and starred this season as a freshman, leading the top-ranked Huskies to their 14th Big East tournament title. She averaged 17.8 points and earned conference player of the year honors -- a first for a freshman.

Auriemma also took a swipe at ESPN and one of its announcers for publicizing the violation.

"ESPN has to run that ticker about what happened nine months after the fact," Auriemma said. "You've got the NCAA tournament going on and you've got 64 teams playing and Trey Wingo wants to talk about Geno and Pat."

Auriemma added, "You can't take me too seriously, come on. That's another reason we're not playing, I'm too much of a smart [expletive]."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press