UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is involved with many endeavors. There might not be one that he likes being a part of more than his Fore the Kids Golf Tournament at Hartford Golf Club.
The event is now in its ninth year. It has raised nearly one million dollars to benefit the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. And that figure is certain to rise after another impressive turnout Monday.
“I don’t think there’s anything that I do that I enjoy more,’’ Auriemma said. “The people that I’ve met here over the years, and they keep coming back, keep coming back. And for us to have more than 200 golfers and a waiting list … I met a guy today who was desperate to get in because his (grandson) is 2 years old and being treated at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.’’
There were 204 golfers that participated in the 18-hole charity event Monday. UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey was among those on hand. The UConn players also spent some time at the event, mingling with participants.
Aside from a round of golf, the event also featured a dinner catered by Outback Restaurant of Manchester as well as a raffle and auction. Among the top-end prizes were a big screen television and golf clubs.
More than $80,000 was raised last year for the Division of Orthopaedics at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. This enabled the facility to invest in an orthopaedic surgical table, which permits surgeons to perform complex procedures such as spinal surgeries or hip replacements with minimally invasive alternatives. Children experience less post-operative pain as a result. They are also at a decreased risk for infection and their recovery time is significantly reduced.
“Anybody who thinks that what we do here is going to make the difference … That’s not why we’re doing it,’’ Auriemma said. “But I think it’s going to have a little bit of an impact, I hope. Whether it’s $100,000 or $150,000 or $200,000, whatever we do … A lot of these people here have a lot of money. They could go anywhere they want. They could support any tournament they want. They could be anywhere today and they’re here. And I think that says a lot about the organization and Hartford Golf Club and the way they do things here and the opportunity to play this golf course and to be part of all this. It’s amazing. I get goose bumps when I think about all those little kids. Now that I have a grandson … I can’t imagine when he’s 2 and he’s got to be … Kids that age being treated for cancer.’’
The tournament begins what will be another busy stretch for Auriemma. He will head to Poland Tuesday for the European Championships.
Auriemma will arrive in time to attend the quarterfinal, semifinal and final rounds.
“I was thinking of this the other day,’’ Auriemma said. “I said, `This is pretty cool. I’m going over there to see some of the best players in the world playing for their country. God, I hope there’s a 17 year old playing over there … But that never happens. You never find those kids out there.’’
Auriemma will return from Poland July 4, two days before the official start of the national recruiting period. The first period runs July 6-15, while the second period runs July 22-31.
The Huskies will be permitted to practice Aug. 6-15 before their trip to Europe Aug. 16-26. UConn is currently scheduled to play four games, one in Italy Aug. 18 and three in Greece Aug. 21, 23 and 25.
Auriemma also discussed the make-up of the Big East schedule once TCU officially enters the conference in the fall of 2012. As far as he is concerned the schedule will move from 16 to 18 games.
The Big East men already play an 18-game schedule.
“I didn’t hear one word discussed about (two) divisions. Not one,’’ Auriemma said. “Everyone seemed to understand that we have 16 games now. Now you have 17 teams. Playing everybody once and that’s 16 (games). I would bet you if you asked every coach they would say, `Yeah, that’s a great of idea. Let’s play everybody once and that’s 16 games.’ That’s not going to happen because that means you only play certain big games once. So if CBS is doing our Notre Dame game at Notre Dame and ESPN says, `We want one more Notre Dame game.’ What are going to say, `No?’ So now that’s 17. OK, well, 17 games. Is that a good number? No. Because you want 16 or 18. So now all of a sudden you throw another one in there, whatever that may be, whoever that may be down the road. Who knows? So I don’t think 16 is an option based on what I’ve heard of how TV wants to promote our league. We’ve already got the best league in the country. Why would we want to go backwards? Eighteen is a lot more logical than 16.’’
Auriemma said he expects a decision to be made by next spring.
The Big East is currently weighing its options to learn where the ideal location is to hold the conference tournament moving forward. It has been at the XL Center since 2004.
Hartford seems like the locale to continue to host the event. Auriemma, though, pointed out that it is not a sure thing for 2012.
“I think there’s a bunch of reasons why it might not be there,’’ Auriemma said. “I’ve always said if it’s going to cost you money or you’re not going to be able to make a lot of money to help your conference then why have a tournament? So if we’re going to have a tournament and we’re going to have it in Hartford then it has to be financially viable for us, or they owe it to themselves to look some place where it’s going to be better. So if the XL Center and the people of Hartford and downtown … If they make it so that we can’t have it anywhere else but there because that’s where it makes the most sense and financially it works and the support is there and all that, then it’ll be there. If someone else comes up with a better offer and a better plan then we should move it. We would make a hell of a lot more money if we went to Mohegan (Sun Casino). But we’ve got a couple of presidents that don’t want to have it there for whatever reason. And there was a lot of discussion. Where do we go? `Let’s go to Florida for three or four days or five days.’ `OK, are you going to be able to get 10,000 people in Florida to come to the Big East tournament?’ I don’t know. `Let’s go to Louisville.’ `Are you going to be able to get 10,000 people to come to Louisville?’ Maybe. Maybe not. There’s a lot of talk about, well, you want people to travel. Well, the onus is on the other Big East schools. Buy their tickets. Sell their tickets and make them responsible for those people coming to the games. Or instead of 17 (teams) you go with 12.’’