Friday, March 14, 2008
There are a ton of conspiracy theories about ESPN out there, but this one actually could be plausible. Shelley Smith broke a story earlier in the week about a recruiting violation involving UConn player Maya Moore. Well the violation in question was a free tour at ESPN Headquarters on her recruiting visit in 2005 and Auriemma think it's just a little sketchy that they're "breaking" the story now....
"It's a story that has been rehashed by ESPN to serve its own purposes," Auriemma told WTIC-AM's Joe D'Ambrosio Thursday on his weekly coach's show. "[ESPN reporter] Shelley Smith came up to talk to me to do a story on [Tennessee women's basketball coach] Pat Summitt and my relationship with her, why the series was canceled, and I flat out said, 'Go ask her. I didn't cancel it.' I didn't want to be involved in [that] story.Auriemma goes on to admit that they made a mistake but had one last parting shot for ESPN in the interview, ""With all the stuff going on in sports today ... you need to run something about a kid getting a tour of ESPN?".
"And [Smith's] response was, 'OK, we're going to [report the violation].' ... What purpose does that serve? It's already been discussed and dealt with [last summer]. It's typical: 'Let's drum up some interest before the NCAA Tournament starts and hope these two meet in the finals so we can get boffo ratings' at the expense of Maya Moore."
Women's College Basketball ratings hinge on UConn vs. Tennessee and it makes perfect sense that ESPN would pull something like this off. Pretty smart if you ask me, but also a little sketchy. These are the things you can try when you're the only game in town.
Auriemma Questions ESPN's motivations in report on Moore visit (Hartford Courant)