Auriemma: “With all the stuff going on in sports today … you need to run something about a kid getting a tour of ESPN?”

UConn Women’s Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma has responded to ESPN’s report that UCONN violated NCAA rules by arranging a tour of ESPN headquarters for Maya Moore.   Clearly, Coach Auriemma found the fact that ESPN broke the story of violation that occurred at their own facility curious and motivated by ESPN’s own self-interest:

It’s a story that has been rehashed by ESPN to serve its own purposes,” Auriemma told WTIC-AM’s Joe D’Ambrosio Thursday on his weekly coach’s show. “[ESPN reporter] Shelley Smith came up to talk to me to do a story on [Tennessee women’s basketball coach] Pat Summitt and my relationship with her, why the series was canceled, and I flat out said, ‘Go ask her. I didn’t cancel it.’ I didn’t want to be involved in [that] story.

“And [Smith’s] response was, ‘OK, we’re going to [report the violation].’ … What purpose does that serve? It’s already been discussed and dealt with [last summer]. It’s typical: ‘Let’s drum up some interest before the NCAA Tournament starts and hope these two meet in the finals so we can get boffo ratings’ at the expense of Maya Moore.”

ESPN has been accused of blurring the lines of journalism and entertainment in the past.  Auriemma’s accusation, that ESPN rehashed an old story, of which it had intimate knowledge, to boost ratings, appears to fall under this category.  If the violation was in fact handled last summer, Auriemma has grounds to question the report’s timeliness.  Auriemma also calls the NCAA on the carpet for what appears to be a petty and unnecessary rule:

“OK, we did something we weren’t supposed to do, it was [a] secondary [violation] in nature. … Fine. But because of that, no student athlete majoring in communications is going to be able to get a tour? It’s this level of absurdity that ESPN should be talking about, instead of running across their ticker that the University of Connecticut committed a secondary violation.

“With all the stuff going on in sports today … you need to run something about a kid getting a tour of ESPN?”

The quotations in this entry appear in John Altavilla’s report in today’s edition of the Hartford Courant.

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