2012-Geno Auriemma The Legends of Coaching Award recognizes the lifetime work of coaches who exemplify Coach Wooden’s high standards of coaching success and personal achievement. When selecting the individual, the Wooden Award Committee considers a coach’s character, success rate on the court, graduation rate of student athletes, his coaching philosophy and his identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award. University of Connecticut Head Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma easily meets, and exceeds, these high standards.
Coach Auriemma has won seven national championships at Connecticut, and produced three straight Wooden Award winners: Maya Moore in 2009 and 2011, and Tina Charles in 2010. He ranks as one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history, with 12 Final Four appearances and four undefeated seasons, including 39-0 NCAA title-producing campaigns in 2009 and 2010. His all-time coaching record at the time of this printing is 802-126 which is tops among active NCAA coaches and No. 2 all-time in winning percentage. His all-time record in the NCAA tournament is an astounding 83-16.
Auriemma won the 800th game of his career March 6, 2012, in the Big East Championship Final against Notre Dame in Hartford, Conn. He reached 800 wins in only 928 games, which is the fewest games all-time. After inheriting a Husky program that had just one winning season in its 11-year history, Auriemma has posted 23 winning seasons since arriving at UConn in August 1985. The Huskies also hold every Big East single-game and single-season home-court attendance record. Away from the court, every recruited freshman who has played for Auriemma at Connecticut and completed her eligibility at UConn has earned her undergraduate degree.
Auriemma has served as a mentor to many current head women’s basketball coaches, some of whom played and/or coached for him, like Temple’s Tonya Cardoza, Hartford’s Jen Rizzotti, and Cincinnati’s Jamelle Elliott. Oklahoma’s Sherri Coale was a top high school coach in Oklahoma when Auriemma recommended her for the Sooners’ top job.
Like Coach Wooden, Coach Auriemma’s commitment to community is impressive. An accomplished speaker, Auriemma is involved in numerous regional and state charitable and educational efforts, and is affiliated with The V Foundation for Cancer Research. He currently serves as co-chair of the Connecticut Arthritis Foundation. Auriemma has given back to his university as well. In November 1998, he and his wife, Kathy, gave a $125,000 gift to the University of Connecticut Library. Auriemma is a 1981 graduate of West Chester with a B.A. in political science. He resides in Manchester, Conn., with Kathy and has three children: Jenna (27), Alyssa (25) and Michael (21) and one grandson, Christian James.
When his team broke Coach Wooden’s streak of 88 consecutive wins during the 2010-2011 season, the comparisons between the two coaches were inevitable. Media members and fans debated the differences between the men’s and women’s games, the styles of the coaches, their eras, and their successes. One thing, however, became certain to the Wooden Award committee and to Coach Wooden’s family: both men would be honored by the comparison.
Coach Wooden’s daughter, Nan, made the announcement of Coach Auriemma’s selection as the 2012 Legends of Coaching winner last October. On the 2010 night that Auriemma’s Huskies broke UCLA’s celebrated 88-game win streak set under Coach Wooden, Wooden’s grandson, Greg, and LAAC President Steve Hathaway, attended the game together in Connecticut.
Coach Wooden and Coach Auriemma were products of a blue collar, hardworking mindset, and both men were ahead of their time in their vision for what women could achieve in sports. Of course, both Coach Wooden and Coach Auriemma are known to be quotable, but in very different ways, one with a “pyramid of success,” and the other with a biting sense of humor.
ESPN.com’s Mechelle Voepel described the comparison between the two legendary men best: “(The comparison) is certainly not something Auriemma would ever ask for, let alone expect. To the contrary, he actually relishes telling the tale of how Wooden forgot they had once met, describing it as a reminder to not ever get too full of yourself.
Auriemma is a prideful person who is also … disdainful of self-absorption and conceit. If people are looking for similar threads in the stories of Wooden’s and Auriemma’s successes, that’s a good place to start. Because the idea of playing team-oriented, unselfish, disciplined basketball — defining characteristics of both coaches’ teams — is the belief that those principles have to guide one’s life, not just sports.”Back to Top