This is an email I wrote to columnist Randy Smith, regarding his inflammatory piece on my dad located here. Read that and then read on. I’m posting it here so that it’s public for you all to read, because my point should be read by more people than just him.
Hello Mr. Smith,
I’m emailing you regarding an article you wrote for the Chattanoogan concerning my father, Geno Auriemma, and comments he made about Pat Summitt at the end of the game on Tuesday.
First off, I just want you to know that perhaps your quotation was taken out of context. My father, as polarizing as he may be in his approach to the game and to the people of Tennessee, has nothing but respect for that woman and what she has done for the game of basketball. After the game on Tuesday, he was asked to put his career in perspective against coaches such as John Wooden, Adolf Rupp, Coach K., and Pat Summitt and he refused to be compared to any other coach but Pat because he valued her contributions to the game of basketball from the women’s side so highly.
His comment about how Pat Summitt was the greatest basketball coach who has ever lived was not said in an attempt to make himself look good, or anything of that ilk. It was said quietly, and full of humility.
I know all of this, Mr. Smith, because for the past 28 years of my life I have been told to comport myself in a way that is, yes, strong and confident but also highly aware of those who have paved the way for me in the world of women and sports and to treat all of them with respect. None of us, including my father and his players and career, would be anything they are today without the contributions and heroism that Pat Summitt has displayed. Of course, there have been clashes between them but what’s past is past.
Their relationship has been patched up since Pat Summitt’s devastating diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and I have been in contact with Pat several times over the past year. I wrote a tribute to her in my blog* that got some coverage in Tennessee as well as Connecticut, and I heard from hundreds of Tennessee fans and their stories about how Pat has touched their lives truly touched my heart. I consider her to be a wonderful, amazing person. And it’s a shame that you have used your article and your voice in the media to be a beacon of promoting conflict between UConn and Tennessee fans.
I’m not even really mad about the article you’ve written, I’m more upset that fans of the two greatest teams in college basketball will see it and continue to bear a grudge against a man who has made mistakes with his mouth (and trust me, I know he has made his share of mistakes) but strives to be excellent in everything he does.
I’m not writing this to rush to “Daddy’s” defense. But when I saw your article, I began shaking with frustration and anger because of the way Geno has been portrayed in the media and the absolute contradiction that is to the man I call my Dad.
I’m not asking for a retraction because as Voltaire once said “I detest what you write but I would give my right arm for you to continue to write.” But I hope you think about what I’ve said and perhaps think more before you put opinions like that out in the media. I found it disturbing, incorrect, and profoundly saddening.
I thank you for your time.
*I am such a self-promoting jerk, aren’t I? In the words of Shangela Laquifa Wadley, I am a postmodern pimp ho. Hallelu.