Thursday, April 27, 2017

Auriemma denies charges in Friday lawsuit

Geno Auriemma, the coach of the 2012 U.S. Olympic women's basketball team, denied the claims of a National Basketball Association official who alleges that Auriemma forced himself on her after a Yekaterinburg basketball tournament.

Kelley Hardwick, the NBA official, filed the lawsuit on Friday in New York. Hardwick alleges that Auriemma followed her, grabbed her and forcibly tried to kiss her at a hotel during a Yekaterinburg basketball tournament in 2009. The lawsuit alleges that Hardwick pushed him away. Auriemma said the allegations are beyond false, the Hartford Courant reports.

"He puts his hand on my left arm and goes to kiss me," Hardwick said, according to the New York Times. "I grabbed his face and (pushed) him. You better check yourself before you get hurt!"

Auriemma, a Hall of Fame women's basketball coach for the University of Connecticut, issued a statement through USA Basketball on Monday.

"This claim is beyond false," Auriemma said, according to the Hartford Courant. "I will defend myself to the fullest, and I'm confident that the truth will ultimately prevail. In the meantime, I remain focused on representing the United States this summer and getting our team ready to compete for the gold medal."

The lawsuit alleges that Auriemma retaliated against Hardwick by demanding the NBA remove her as a top security official for the United States women's team during the London Olympics.

"I was willing to close this story in 2009," Hardwick said, according to the New York Times. "If Geno had not interfered with my job and my livelihood, I would not have filed this lawsuit."

Auriemma has won seven national championships at the University of Connecticut and was named the coach of the Olympic team in spring 2009.