STORRS, Conn. (AP) — University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma says he has no doubt he could coach the school’s men’s basketball team and enjoy it.
But the 63-year-old Auriemma says at his age, he has no interest in starting over as a men’s coach.
UConn fired Kevin Ollie on Saturday after a second consecutive losing season. Auriemma’s name has been among those mentioned as a possible successor. His teams have won 11 NCAA titles.
The Hall of Famer, who last coached males when he coached his son’s AAU team more than a decade ago, addressed the issue Monday night after his undefeated team was again picked as the top seed in the women’s NCAA Tournament.
“If I do that, I’ve got to start all over like I’m 35 years old again; kill myself,” he said. “I mean, would I do it? I could do it. Would I enjoy doing it? I would enjoy it. Do I want to do it? No.”
UConn women’s forward Gabby Williams said she believes Auriemma would “lose his mind” coaching the men, because “Men are stubborn, men do what they want.”
But Auriemma disputed that. He said being successful as the men’s coach, especially at a school outside the Power Five, would hinge on recruiting top players who want to be coached.
“Villanova and Xavier are two of the top four seeds in the NCAA Tournament,” Auriemma said. “They’re not in the Power Five elite that everybody talks about. But I’m telling you there are lot of kids who are really good players that want to be coached that go to those schools that will kick your (backside) in a heartbeat.”
Auriemma said when he coached males, he noticed two big differences from the women’s game. The first was broken plays often turned into successful plays with a dunk or an easy basket.
“The next thing I saw was, these guys sabotage plays on purpose, if the ball is not for them,” he said. “So if we’re not running something for you, that things only going two passes before someone screws it up.”
Auriemma has known Ollie since he was UConn’s point guard in the early 1990s and considers him a good friend. He declined to discuss his feelings about the school’s decision to fire the coach “for cause” amid an NCAA investigation of the program.
He noted Ollie led UConn to a national championship in 2014, something few others in the nation have done.
“Sometimes things happen that you can’t predict,” he said. “And it’s just unfortunate.”
Ollie is fighting his firing in an effort to be paid about $10 million that remains on the contract he signed two years ago.
A hearing that includes the school and Ollie’s union, the American Association of University Professors, must be held before March 25.
David Benedict, UConn’s athletic director, said the school is conducting a nationwide search for Ollie’s successor. Other names mentioned for the job include Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley and former Indiana coach Tom Crean.