An Open Letter to Randy Smith of the Chattanoogan.

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.

Alysa Auriemma

*I am such a self-promoting jerk, aren’t I? In the words of Shangela Laquifa Wadley, I am a postmodern pimp ho.  Hallelu.

Published by The Curious Ally Cat

I'm a 34 year old adjunct professor and writer in Connecticut. People seem to like me because I am polite and I am rarely late.

20 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Randy Smith of the Chattanoogan.

  1. Couldn't have said it better…oh wait I'm not Geno's son nor daughter, so I couldnt have said it better but thats besides the point 🙂
    It's a good thing you can't comment on the article directly because I wouldn't have been so PC about it. I graduated from UConn in '96 and have seen how far we have come with regards to the Pat-Geno feud. Sad to see someone like Randy Smith stoke that fire again for all the wrong reasons!
    Hope he has a response to your letter!?


  2. Kick 'em, Ally! That was terrific!

    I'll be honest — growing up, I was one of those “I hate UConn and Geno” fans because I was a Tennessee fan. However, I have learned over the past few years how wrong I was on so many levels. I listened to what the media had to say — all the negative rhetoric concerning UConn and how they were going to ruin the cherished dynasty that Tennessee built. I was all gungho and remember desperately saying how I never wanted Geno Auriemma to beat Pat Summitt's record. Thankfully, I grew up and realized, this is a sport; records are meant to be broken. I finally started investigating myself; reading books written by Pat and Geno. I realized how much Pat did for this sport, as you mentioned, aside from wins and losses.

    To me, now, I am a HUGE proponent of women's basketball. There isn't really one team I have a dislike for (okay that's a lie, I'm still not a UNC fan but that's probably because I grew up in North Carolina and you have to chose one team not to like, ha!). But, I will admit that had you asked me in 2009 and 2010, I would have NEVER thought of pulling for UConn. Yet in 2013, I sit in my office writing a reply to Geno's daughter wearing a UConn Women's Basketball team jacket. Wow, how times have changed! Even though I still am a Lady Vols fan, I am now also a fan of the UConn Women, as well. I love women's basketball and was so happy to see them win their eighth title. I almost feel the need to ask you to apologize to your father for me, as I am sure I have held too much of a grudge against him my whole life. I owe a large debt of gratitude, as well, to Chris Dailey for really converting me over to be a UConn fan. So, Ally, keep up the good work! I agree with everything you said!


  3. Some people just need to see the worst in every possible situation. If more people assumed the best of other people we would live in a much happier world. Well said Alysa! You are obviously proud of your fathers accomplishments – and righfully so – while still seeing him for the imperfect person he is as are we all. Keep writing!


  4. Apparently Mr. Smith believes that his years of covering high school, collegiate and professional sports as a minor-market journalist give him the right to quote out of context, make disparaging remarks about the character of a man he has never met, and perpetuate the very hatred and classlessness he rails against. I'd call him a hypocrite, but truthfully I feel too sorry for him. I'll just call the entire thing pathetic.

    Loved your response, sister!!


  5. Kudos to both Alysa and Mescarlett- I am a season ticket holding UC fanatic and an unbelievable Geno- Ista! It's pathetic- I'm a 55 yr old male and the more I follow him and the program the more I realize just how great the program is and how great he is. When geno first started winning, we loved watching the talent and the heart they played with. But even I would hear some of the Geno Quotes, taken out of context, and say wow -this guy seams like a wack job. Then I really started to pay more attention, and realize that you know what, he may not be perfect, but he is honest, and says alot of things that others are afreaid to say. But he has handled all the success, 90 game streak, Wooden and Summitt comparisons as well as one possibly can. That writer should be ashamed of himself. Any one who could take those comments after the game, that I have seen 10 times, and write that nasty article, is just a bitter small person, who really doesn't get it.Or he gets it and wants some attention. That writer could not shine Geno's shoes. I love Tenn and the country music fest every year, and he is not the type of person that I keeps us wanting to go back each year for the southern hospitality. Our talent level and teams are not 20-30 points better than everyone. We just play smarter and harder more than everyone usually. Geno and his staff, and players really are all in and as he said in the regionals, they alllive the goal of winning the Final Four each day of the year. and if you ever watch a UC practice- you see why they are there every year. Those women inspire me. And almost everyone of them every season is someone you would be proud to have as your daughter. Great in school, they have fun, work like animals and are as polite as can be when you meet them! They are rock stars in CT every year- Nat championship or not. I love U Conn womens basketball, I love Louiville's run in the tmt, the way Notre Dame plays basketball just like us, and I love womens basketball!


  6. love UConn ladies basketball, but honestly, Pat Summit is and always will be Womens basketball. Nothing negative in Geno's comment


  7. A very nice letter Alysa…glad that I saw the link on the Ct.Post blog. I hope that Mr. Smith has the intelligence and integrity to respond to you. I have nothing but admiration for your Dad and your family and how you represent the University. I'm a 75 year old Lady Husky fanatic and I live and die for the basketball season and those to come. It's a tribute to the coaching staff that they conduct themselves like true professionals and demand excellence from the young women who they recruit. I admire the fact that there's no chest bumping during introductions and no tattoos….just great basketball from talented and intelligent young women. Your Dad brings a lot of pride and joy to a huge proportion of the “senior” population in CT, especially me!


  8. WOW – I dont understand the negativity. It comes down to envy. Jealousy is rearing its ugly head is an understatement. Sad thing is, its always gonna be there. Sometimes I get frustrated with the same schools getting into the final four and it is nice to see different names, but you have to give kudos at the same time. They work hard, recruit well and believe they deserve to be there. It starts with the coaches right on down the line. For those that mock or envy – thats life. Dont criticize or belittle because your jealous! Thanks for sticking up for your Dad Ali – I am sure he had a big smile on his face when reading it! Because what his family thinks is all that really matters!


  9. A legit journalist would never begin an editorial with words to the effect of, “I don't know if this sentence was taken out of context, but if it was…” A decent journalist would check to see what the context of the statement was before embarking upon a whole diatribe such as the one this writer did. Sloppy, ineffective work. I'd give Randy Smith a D in Journalism 101.


  10. I am a big fan of the game and thus a fan of Tenn and UConn mostly for what they do for the game and the young ladies who play it. I read that article and was very upset. I believe that Randy Smith would interpret “Hello” from Geno as a derogatory remark. He is a selfish journalist only interested in the attention he receives from what he writes. I was watching and listening to Geno, during that interview about tying the record. As huge Pat Summit fan, it brought tears to my eyes to listen to what he said about Pat and the record! He was a class act! There was NOTHING negative to what he said about Pat – quite the opposite.

    What Pat has accomplished is something to treasure and what Geno has accomplished is just as important and neither Coach's accomplishments detract from the other. Both coaches programs are built on love and respect for their team and staff and if you can't see that – start watching bowling. Randy – grow up, get over yourself and move on!


  11. The guy propably hadn't written a column in weeks and was due. He just picked up on a nice compliment and distorted it for his own purpose to write a column. Alysa's response was well presented. I listened to and watched Geno at the interview, he was quite complimentary and no malice was intended from what I could gather. Oh well it is water over the damn and the less attention one gives that writer the better. Heck he would find something wrong regardless.


  12. Doesn't this “writer” have any respect for Pat Summit? Pat will never need lies or statements taken out of context to know how much she has done for women's basketball. As Geno has stated, she was the first to reach eight national titles. What this so called writer has done is to commit a flagrant foul. His intent was to hurt or re-kindle a past misunderstanding. True supporters and followers and supporters of women's basketball realize that both coaches, like them or not, are deserving of admiration and respect. Instead of focusing on ALL the GOOD things BOTH coaches have done, this “writer” as politicians always do, seek to promote hatred toward the other for attention and to deflect the public away from the TRUTH. Neither Pat or Geno need such over the top statements to gain respect from countless WOMEN'S BASKETBALL supporters. Are you trying to deflect the attention away from what just took place in the National Championship? Sir, with all due respect, or not, hatred breeds anger and sometimes falsehoods. Is this your agenda? Women's basketball does NOT need that. If you cannot appreciate the progress WOMEN'S basketball has made, please put down your pen and seek a different profession. God bless you Geno, for keeping your cool during this unfounded attack. You, Geno, unlike the “writer,” are truely a man of courage, honesty and respect for the “WOMEN'S ” game. On the other hand, this si called “writer,” has No respect for himself. The need to misinform the readers is nothing more than a way to bring attention to yourself. PATHETIC!!!!! Please seek work you can handle!!!!!!!


  13. As a long-time UCONN women's bb fan and a Geno fan, I thank you so much for the gracious email you sent to Randy. I was very upset when I read what he wrote via John Altavilla's blog. So upset, that I needed to send Randy an email. It was short and to the point, but you said it much better. I guess as an Italian-American, his whop-sided also got to me, but he explained that one–don't know if I accept that one, but so be it. Your dad deserves all the accolades he gets. “Geno is God” in this house.


  14. Dear Alysa,
    Thank you for your sincere response to the outrageous, amateurish remarks by Mr Smith. He doesn't deserve the title of journalist. A good journalist reports the facts as truth, and should never intentionaly take such liberty as to demean ones personal character, in any public discussion.
    I will state the obvious, as I am also, like you, of Italian descent. He should not be allowed to work, ever again, on any public forum. To print his ignorant remark ” whop-ish” is so offensive and non professional that ESPN and the Tennessee Volunteer Media Community should revoke his privligde to ever write or broadcast again.
    Does a “chink in the armor” ring loudly !!!!
    He really should apologize for his remarks, and above all apologize for embarrising his family for being the Archie Bunker he really is.
    Thanks for taking the high road……….you make us all proud.

    po 'di felicita' pusue altri crearla


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