UConn's Geno Auriemma Worries How One-and-Done Rule Would Impact Women's College Hoops

Apr 4, 2024; Cleveland, OH, USA; UConn Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma talks to the media during a conference.
Apr 4, 2024; Cleveland, OH, USA; UConn Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma talks to the media during a conference. / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Men's college basketball players can declare for the NBA draft as long as they are 19 years old during the event's calendar year and one year removed from graduating high school. However, women's college stars must wait until the year they are graduating from college or in the calendar year that they turn 22.

While some argue that women's players should be able to declare for the WNBA draft earlier, others, like UConn coach Geno Auriemma, do not believe the sport should adopt the "one-and-done" rule that exists in men's basketball.

Auriemma spoke more about his opinion during Thursday's UnSportsmanLike show on ESPN Radio. He thinks establishing this rule would "ruin" the game at a time where women's college basketball is extremely popular.

"It depends whether you want the game to grow or you want to kill it," Auriemma said. "If you want to kill it, then let the kids leave after freshman year. On the men's side, it's become transactional. Everybody's a free agent. Everybody's a mercenary. It's not the kids' fault.

"... To me, what helped the women's game grow is the people in Iowa got to grow up with Caitlin Clark. The people of Connecticut got to grow up with all of my great players. There's something to be said for that."

This question was posed to Auriemma when discussing the future of women's college basketball now that Iowa star Caitlin Clark, who he mentioned above, will debut in the WNBA this summer. He believes college hoops fans get to know the women's players better since they typically play for about four seasons before entering the WNBA.

"I don't know that our game can continue to move forward if all of a sudden our guys are gone," Auriemma said. "So I like the rule, and the players decided the rule. So if they change the rule, God bless 'em, but I think it'll ruin the game."

If women's college basketball does decide to adopt the "one-and-done" rule, it wouldn't be until at least the beginning of the 2025-26 season as the WNBA and WNBPA's collective bargaining agreement currently runs through 2027, but with a potential opt-out in 2025.


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Madison Williams

MADISON WILLIAMS

Madison Williams is a Staff Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated, where she has covered the entire sports landscape since 2022. She specializes in tennis, but covers a wide range of sports from a national perspective. Before joining Sports Illustrated, Madison worked with The Sporting News. She hails from Augustana College and completed a Master’s in Sports Media at Northwestern University. Madison is a dog mom and an avid reader.