Geno Auriemma pays tribute to longtime rival Pat Summitt
Connecticut women's head basketball coach Geno Auriemma took a moment on Tuesday morning to reflect on the life of legendary basketball coach Pat Summitt, who passed away at the age of 64 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
"From a competitive standpoint, it was the one program, the one game that you... each year you kinda measured yourself and your team. 'Hey, when we play that game, we'll know if we're good enough to win a national championship or not,” Auriemma told ESPN. “From a personal standpoint I think you can see how difficult it was back then for a woman to try to do something that really no one had ever done before, and no one thought you could do it. Trying to juggle being a mom and being a coach and being a representative for the game. From all the different aspects of looking at what her career was, there were a lot of things that she was the first. There were other people that did it, but nobody did it better or did it longer.”
UConn and Tennessee rivaled each other for years with Auriemma and Summitt at their respective helm from 1995 to 2007. After going head-to-head for years, Auriemma noted in his autobiography that he mended his relationship with Summitt.
During her 38-year career as the head coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols, Summitt amassed 1,098 wins, the most ever for a college basketball coach. Aurriema is sixth on the all-time list with his own 955 victories.