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Auriemma: People Ask My Opinion Because I'm Honest

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    This story got lost in the holiday mix, but with both teams off for a few more days, this seems like the perfect time to revisit it. As you may have heard, Geno Auriemma has been known to speak his mind. And whether you agree with the method in which he delivers his message, he's usually onto something. Auriemma most recently made news when he and his wife donated $80,000 to start a scholarship fund at UConn for the families of the Newtown victims.

    And like Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim, Auriemma has spoken on the tragedy that claimed 26 lives.

    "I'm just a poor little Italian kid, come over from Italy," Auriemma said recently via the Hartford Courant. "I don't know anything. But I do know this: Little kids in Italy aren't afraid to walk down the street because they are going to get shot. They aren't afraid about being shot in a school. They don't need to worry about going shopping at the mall. Nor do the little kids in Germany or France.

    "Most civilized countries in the world do not have to worry about this stuff. So why do we in this nation have to fear for our children? Why do I have to be afraid for the safety of my grandson? It's beyond me. I can't figure it out and no one will ever convince me that it is OK. …

    "Everyone who was around has an opinion about what happened in Newtown," Auriemma continued. "And if someone asks me my opinion about that or about schools leaving the Big East, you sometimes get the nonsense back [from those that don't agree] about, 'What do we care, he's only a women's basketball coach. His opinion doesn't count.' That's fine. I understand. You are going to offend some people and others may agree with you."

    And then Auriemma explained why people listen when he talks. It has little to do with his job title (although his success and earned him some credibility in that regard) and everything to do with him telling it like it is.

    "I think people ask my opinion on things not because I am a women's basketball coach, but because they know I am going to offer an honest opinion," he said. "If you ask me a question on a national issue, I will tell you what I think and I've been doing it for 28 years now."

    And for the most part, it's served him well.

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