Normally you would expect a coach to be ecstatic following a 64-51 victory. Well, that was not the case at all for the University of Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma after his team trounced Vanderbilt in Memorial Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
Last season, following the termination of Tennessee Women’s Basketball head coach Holly Warlick, Evina Westbrook decided to leave the program in order to transfer to the UConn Huskies. While it served as a big blow to the Lady Vols, the thought was that Tennessee would support Westbrook’s waiver to make her immediately eligible at UConn.
According to Auriemma that was not the case. While it is clear that the University of Tennessee did not oppose Westbrook’s waiver, Auriemma claims that Tennessee chose to be a bystander and neither support nor oppose Westbrook in their battle with the NCAA. Auriemma also claimed he pleaded with UT to support the waiver on multiple occasions and they never obliged with his requests.
In his postgame press conference, Auriemma torched Tennessee’s culture saying, “think about this, a kid is in an environment that’s not necessarily healthy, an environment that if you knew what the environment was, which I can’t say, you would not want your kid in that environment.” Auriemma did not stop there as he lashed out at Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer saying, “the athletic director there knows it, but he’s not going to support her leaving, which would have helped us…”
Auriemma then went off on the NCAA telling the media, “ Who does it punish? Does it punish Tennessee? That kid’s not going to be there anyway, the only person that it punishes when this happens is the kid who’s trying to get themselves in a better environment.”
Ironically all of this drama has landed on the same year as the Volunteers and UConn are renewing their rivalry, they will meet on January 23rd and you can expect that to be an extremely physical and emotional game for both teams and coaches. As for Westbrook, the University of Connecticut has exhausted all of their options and she will be forced to sit out her first season at UConn.