Auriemma Earns Wooden Award’s Legends of Coaching Honor

 UConn head coach Geno Auriemma will be presented with the John R. Wooden Award’s “Legends of Coaching’’ honor in 2012, Coach Wooden’s daughter, Nan Wooden, announced Wednesday at the annual Wooden Award preseason tip-off luncheon at The Los Angeles Athletic Club.

 Auriemma ranks as one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history, with seven national championships, 12 Final Fours and four undefeated seasons, including 39-0 NCAA title-producing campaigns in 2009 and 2010. Auriemma’s all-time coaching record is 771-124 in 26 seasons (.861), first among active NCAA coaches and second all-time in winning percentage. His all-time record in the NCAA tournament is 81-16 (.835) in 24 appearances.

 Since Auriemma arrived at UConn in 1985, all of the players who have exhausted their eligibility have graduated. He will coach the U.S. Olympic team next summer in London.

“When I got that notice it was totally unexpected,’’ Auriemma said. “There was no lead in to that, no inkling whatsoever that that was going to happen. So when it did happen I was really taken back by it. I think any award that you get is worthy of something. But if you’re getting something like that from that organization you’ve got to view that differently.’’

 UConn’s men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun was the Legends of Coaching winner in 2005. UConn is the only school with two recipients.

Auriemma has coached the last three Wooden Award women’s winners, Maya Moore (2009, 2011) and Tina Charles (2010). Auriemma and Coach Wooden became linked in fans’ minds last year when Coach Wooden’s grandson, Greg Wooden, was on hand as the Huskies broke the Wooden-led UCLA consecutive win streak at 88 Dec. 20, 2010.

 Off the court, Auriemma is involved in numerous regional and state charitable and educational efforts. He implemented a statewide elementary reading initiative called Geno’s Reading Team in 2008 in Connecticut. He has worked tirelessly in the fight against cancer and established “Geno’s Cancer Team’’ in 2008, while working closely with the V Foundation and the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. Auriemma annually hosts the Fore the Kids Golf Outing to benefit the Connecticut Children’s Hospital, as well as working with his team on community charity events throughout the year.

 The “Legends of Coaching” award was adopted by the Wooden Award Committee in 1999.  The first recipient was Dean Smith of North Carolina. The award recognizes coaches who exemplify Coach Wooden’s high standards of coaching success and personal integrity. The honorees are selected based on character, success on the court, graduation rates of student-athletes in their basketball program, coaching philosophy, and identification with the goals of the John R. Wooden Award. Auriemma will be recognized, along with the men’s and women’s 2012 John R. Wooden Award winners and the Wooden Award All-American teams at the Los Angeles Athletic Club during the weekend of April 6-8, 2012.