UConn coach Geno Auriemma was doing a good deed when he called the Little League offices in Williamsport, Pa. last month. He wanted to congratulate 13-year-old star pitcher Mo’ne Davis on her success.
However, the call placed by Auriemma prompted another call to be placed as an anonymous school phoned the American Athletic Conference office to report UConn for committing what they believed was a recruiting violation.
“I called the office … `Well, you know, Coach, she’s standing right here.’ I said, `Well, put her on the phone. I want to say congratulations,’’’ Auriemma said today. “So I say `congratulations.’ She’s 13. The conversation lasted about two minutes. She hangs up. How about a school turned us in as a recruiting violation because I’m not allowed to talk to her until July 1 of her junior year in high school, which is pure, absolute, unadulterated … But that’s the world that we live in. So you want to know like what’s wrong not only with some of the things that go on but with some of the people that I coach against.’’
“Somebody called and said that it was a violation. And that’s the world that we live in.’’
Davis told ESPN during the Little League World Series that her goal is to play point guard at UConn. She was wearing a UConn sweatshirt Tuesday night when she met Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium.
According to UConn, an athlete is not classified as a prospective student athlete until they enter high school, which means there was no violation committed by Auriemma.
“I’ve never seen the kid play basketball,’’ Auriemma said. “I have no idea. I have no idea whether the kid’s any good, no good, a superstar or can even reach the basket. I have no idea. No one that I know has ever seen her play. So I don’t know why that’s a violation.’’
Geno went further, joking about the situation …
“So what are you telling me,” he said, “if a kid wins a swimming event someplace and is wearing a UConn sweatshirt and I call to congratulate her in 7th grade … `Hey, congratulations. I think that was great.’ `Hey, you’re not allowed to do that.’ Why not? It’s that unbelievable. There’s guys playing college basketball driving around in cars that cost more than my house and we’re worried about a phone call that I made?’’
Here is what Auriemma to say about the conversation he shared with Davis …
“The thing that struck me about her in the two minutes was that it was something that is not normal,’’ Auriemma said. “You could sense that, `this is a lot for me and I’m trying to do the best that I can to handle it.’ And sometimes it’s great to be naïve and not know like, `Wow, what’s going on?’ But there comes a point in time I think when you look around and you go, `There’s 37,000 people here and there’s 400 media credentials. And we’re used to playing in front our friends and family.’
“So I think kind of the scrutiny and the media generated and the fan interest that was generated is just not normal. I thought she handled it unbelievably. I did say at one point, `Don’t let them make a big deal over the fact that you’re a girl because for two hours a day you’re just a baseball player. So make sure they that you like a baseball player and not like, ooh, look at this girl playing baseball. They didn’t pick you because you were a girl. They picked you because you’re a really good baseball player.’ And I said it would be really nice if you got a couple hits.’’’