Auriemma Named in Lawsuit

Connecticut women's basketball head coach Geno Auriemma, also coach of the U.S. Olympic women's basketball team, has been named in a lawsuit that accuses him, the NBA and USA Basketball of employment discrimination.

Kelley Hardwick, a female security officer for the NBA, filed the suit Monday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. She claims that Auriemma "followed, grabbed and tried to forcibly kiss her at a hotel" during a basketball tournament in Russia in 2009.

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The New York Times first reported the lawsuit Monday. Auriemma responded with a statement late Monday saying the claim is "beyond false" and he will defend himself "to the fullest."

In the lawsuit, Hardwick said she pushed Auriemma away but this year, the suit claims, the UConn coach "retaliated for her rebuff" by successfully demanding that the NBA remove her as the top security official for the women's team at the upcoming London Olympics.

Hardwick, 46, is a law school graduate and a former New York City undercover narcotics detective.

The lawsuit alleges that Auriemma followed Hardwick back to her room and tried to kiss her after joining a conversation between her and a co-worker in a hotel lounge.

"Plaintiff was startled but, utilizing her training as a police officer and security professional, reacted quickly by shoving him away and stating, 'What are you doing? You better check yourself before you get hurt!'" the suit says, according to The Associated Press.

Hardwick claims in the suit that she notified supervisors about the incident but no action was taken. She also alleges she learned of a conference call in March in which Auriemma asked NBA officials to keep her off security for the London Olympics.

Auriemma released the following statement: "I was unaware of this lawsuit until hearing about it through a media report today and will therefore have no comment."

A spokesman for UConn's athletics communications department said Auriemma's statement "is not a University statement."

The university has not commented to this point.

Later Monday, Auriemma issued a statement through USA Basketball, saying, "This claim is beyond false. 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 only comment from USA Basketball also came through a statement saying: "USA Basketball just became aware of this lawsuit today. As it is our policy not to discuss pending legal matters, we will have no further comment while this case is active."

Hardwick also alleges that the NBA discriminated against her because of her gender, keeping her from promotions and other employment opportunities.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league would not comment on pending legal matters.

Read the full New York Times story here. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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