NEW YORK, June 23, 2010 – In recognition of his impact on athletes and his demonstrated commitment, passion and dedication to work and the community, University of Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma has been named the recipient of the 2010 WNBA Inspiring Coach Award. The Award presentation will take place at “WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun” on July 10.
The award – which the WNBA introduced in 2007 to honor coaches who have positively influenced athletes across numerous levels and whose achievements leave an indelible mark on sports as a whole – will be presented to Coach Auriemma later in the league’s 2010 season. Previous winners include Pat Summitt (University of Tennessee), the late Kay Yow (North Carolina State), and Jody Conradt (University of Texas).
“Geno Auriemma is a trailblazer for women’s basketball, paving the way for increasingly talented players we are seeing in the WNBA,” said WNBA President Donna Orender. We are thrilled to honor him for inspiring a generation of young athletes and for his tremendous efforts in giving back to the community including his great work with the V Foundation for Cancer Research.”
“I’m honored, but the real inspiration comes from my players and my staff. They inspire me every day by how hard they work and how committed they are to our goals,” said Geno Auriemma. “Thank you to the people at the WNBA who were impressed that Connecticut Basketball has inspired so many others.”
Since Auriemma’s arrival in 1985, when UConn had had only one winning season in its history, he has transformed the Huskies program into a national powerhouse, winning seven national titles, making 11 Final Fours, completing four perfect seasons (1995,2002, 2009, 2010), and winning 15 Big East regular- season titles. He is the first coach in women’s basketball history to guide a team to five consecutive Final Four appearances. Auriemma is a seven-time national coach of the year and has been named Big East coach of the year eight times. In all, Auriemma has garnered a combined total of 24 National Coach of the Year honors.
Auriemma’s 24-year record stands at 735-122 (.858), by far the best winning percentage among active Division I coaches. He is also the fastest coach to eclipse the 600-win mark – taking just 716 games to reach the milestone, in the 2006-07 season.
Off the court, success means a flawless, 100-percent graduation rate and one of the most beloved sports teams in the country. Auriemma has coached some of the best female basketball players in the world, including the Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird and Swin Cash, 2009 Finals and regular-season MVP Diana Taurasi, and the Connecticut Sun’s Asjha Jones. As a result of his outstanding success in the basketball universe, both the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Springfield, Mass.) and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame (Knoxville, Tenn.) inducted Auriemma into their institutions in 2006.
In addition, Auriemma recently earned the post of head coach of the U.S. National Team, one of the highest honors that someone in his profession can receive. In preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Auriemma will showcase his team this summer at WNBA vs. USA Basketball: The Stars at the Sun, when the WNBA’s top talent will face the USA Basketball Women’s National Team.