Pat Summitt reflects on Geno issues
Pat Summitt, in a soon-to-be-published book about her career, says that her relationship with Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma and the UConn program soured over recruiting battles, causing the end of women's college basketball's most legendary and ultimately nasty rivalry.
"Over the course of about a year, I became increasingly upset with a couple of UConn's tactics in recruiting," Summitt wrote in the book "Sum It Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective," co-authored with Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins. An excerpt was published on SI.com on Tuesday.
"I didn't itemize my complaints publicly then, and I'm not going to now," she wrote. "I went through the appropriate channels and that's how it will stay. I made my concerns known to UConn through our athletic director, Joan Cronan, and the Southeastern Conference. UConn responded that they saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. I made my concerns known again. Same response.
"I was finished. I didn't see any other choice. 'I'm not putting up with this anymore,' I told my staff. I met with Joan and our university president, Dr. John Petersen, and outlined my reasons for wanting to discontinue the series: The lack of response from UConn and the personal negativity convinced me it was no longer in our best interest. I thought we needed to send a message that we didn't want a game that wasn't played in the right spirit. The administration agreed, and we declined to renew the series."
Connecticut and Tennessee first played in 1995, and played every season from then until 2007. From 2000 through 2002, the schools played twice in the regular season. Connecticut won 13 of the 22 matchups -- every one of which included two teams ranked in the top 15 of the Associated Press rankings. The teams have not played since Jan. 6, 2007, when Tennessee won its third straight, 70-64 over UConn in Hartford, Conn.
In the published excerpt, Summitt doesn't detail her issues with Connecticut's recruiting specifically. She does write that her relationship with Auriemma soured after 2000, including icy meetings at dinners and at the Final Four. Summitt admits that "a couple of elbows were thrown," and says both sides threw them.
"I didn't do gray. I only did black and white," she wrote.
Summitt was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease in August 2011. She ultimately coached the next season, but then retired.
Summitt wrote that her relationship with Auriemma has grown better in recent years. She wrote that when she formed the Pat Summitt Foundation to fight Alzheimer's, Auriemma was among the first to respond. "He wrote out a check on the spot -- for $10,000," she wrote.
Last week, Auriemma told the Hartford Courant that his relationship with Summitt is improved. "Once basketball is not involved, sure, I would agree with that," Auriemma told the Courant. "Sure. Absolutely."
Summitt retired after the 2012 season with a career record of 1,098-208. She won eight NCAA national titles.