As March Madness came to a close and Duke was crowned 2015 National Champions, there was one coach garnering a lot of media attention, and no it wasn’t the Blue Devils’ Mike Krzyzewski.
In fact, it wasn’t even a men’s coach. It was UConn women’s coach “Luigi” Geno Auriemma. And the attention surrounding him wasn’t in regards to his upcoming National Championship run, but instead about comments he made regarding men’s basketball – calling it “a joke” among other things.
Regardless, Auriemma has had a very successful career with the Huskies that isn’t brought into the spotlight as much as a men’s coach, and here’s what you need to know:
1. He Is From Italy
Auriemma was born in Montella, Italy in 1954. At the age of seven, he and his emigrated to Norristown, Pennsylvania, which is just outside of Philadelphia. He spent the rest of his childhood there and attended Bishop Kenrick High School before heading to West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
Following graduation in 1977, Auriemma was hired as an assistant coach at St. Joseph’s University. He spent two years with the Hawks before leaving the collegiate level to become an assistant his former high school. After two years with his alma mater, Auriemma returned to the collegiate level as an assistant with the University of Virginia. He spent four years there before taking the helm at UConn in 1985.
2. He Has Won the Most NCAA Championships in History
In his 29-year career with the Huskies, Auriemma has amassed a record of 916-134 overall and 489-71 in conference play. He has also coached UConn to five perfect seasons, including back-to-back 39-0 years in 2008-09 and 2009-10, and holds the record for the longest win streak in NCAA history – 90 games, which ended with a 71-59 loss to Stanford on December 30, 2010.
Auriemma, 61, also holds the record for most NCAA National Championship with nine as he passed retired Tennessee coach Pat Summitt’s mark of eight last March. The only record Summitt still holds onto is the all-time career wins with 1,098.
With the Huskies, Auriemma has notched 21 regular season and 20 conference tournament titles. He’s a
six-time Naismith Coach of the Year, three-time WBCA National Coach of the Year, seven-time AP Coach of the Year, and is in the Naismith, Women’s Basketball and National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
3. He Signed a 5-Year Contract Extension in 2013
On March 27, 2013, Auriemma signed a five-year extension with UConn to coach through the 2017-18 season.
According to NBC Sports’ College Basketball Talk, the total compensation due to him in the contract is $10.86 million, giving him $1.95 million in salary for this year and increasing over time until he earns $2.4 million in the final year of the deal. It includes $400,000 in base salary, with extras added on for speaking and media fees. It also includes a series of performance-based incentives.
With the extension and his previous salary, Auriemma has a net worth of $8 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
4. He Coached the U.S. Women’s Team to Two Gold Medals in the Summer Olympics
Auriemma’s court presence doesn’t stop at the collegiate level, he has also coached the women’s national team.
Following his gold medal success at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Auriemma was named as head coach of the USA team which would compete at the Junior World Championship in Brno, Czech Republic in 2001. The team won its first five games, including a record-setting win against Mali because the 97–27 final score represented the largest margin of victory by a USA team in Junior World Championship history. The team would go on to earn a bronze medal.
Then leading up to the 2010 World Championship and 2012 Olympics, Auriemma was named head coach of the USA National team. And again he had success – notching another gold medal finish in the 2010 World Championship and the 2012 London Olympics.
And last year, Auriemma lead the team to another gold medal in Turkey at the 2014 World Championships.
5. He Has Been With His Wife for 43 Years
When Kathy was just 18-years-old, she met Auriemma. She was in community college and at that time Kathy said he told her that he wanted to be a lawyer. Although he graduated in 1981 with a B.A. in political science from West Chester, we all know law was not the path he took in his career. Something Kathy said she knew there was no turning back from with seeing his determination, according to Fabwags.com.
Since meeting 43 years ago and then tying the knot, Kathy and Auriemma have since had three children – daughters, Jenna and Alyssa, and son, Michael. They also have two grandchildren.
Their daughter Alyssa made some headlines of her own when her tribute to Pat Summitt blog post went viral and gained a lot of attention.