UConn head basketball coach Geno Auriemma is the subject of a lawsuit that accuses him of grabbing a female employee of the NBA and forcibly trying to kiss her during a basketball tournament in Russia in 2009.
Kelly Hardwick, a security officer for the National Basketball Association, filed the lawsuit in Supreme Court in Manhattan. She claims she rebuffed his advances.
The story was first reported by the New York Times.
Hardwick, 46, served as the lead security official for the women's team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece and the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
She said she decided to file the lawsuit because Auriemma retaliated against her this year by asking that Hardwick be removed as the the top security official for the U.S. women's basketball team at the London Olympics, the paper reported.
Auriemma is the head coach of the team going to London this year. Hardwick
According to the lawsuit, Hardwick reported the 2009 incident to her colleagues and superiors, but remained willing to continue her work as a security official for USA Basketball (USAB).
"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," USA Basketball said in a statement to NBC Connecticut.
In the lawsuit, Hardwick claims Auriemma "continued to act vindictively toward her on subsequent USAB trips and ultimately undertook to deprive her of duties by demanding that the NBA relieve her of her USAB travel assignment, including her duties overseeing security for the Women's National Basketball Team at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England."
"I was willing to close this story in 2009," Hardwick told the Times. "If Geno had not interfered with my job and my livelihood, I would not have filed this lawsuit."
The alleged incident, as described in the lawsuit, took place on or about Oct. 9, 2009 on a trip with the Women's Senior National Team in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
Hardwick claims she and a person on her staff, Rachel Shannon, both of whom are African-American, were in the lounge of a hotel where the team was staying. Auriemma sat with the two women and began a conversation, even though he wasn't invited to sit with the pair, Hardwick claims. Auriemma told the women his parents were poor Italian immigrants and that he did not grow up wealthy and he could "relate to inner city blacks," according to the lawsuit.
Hardwick and Shannon got up and went to the elevator to return to their rooms. Auriemma entered the elevator with them. Shannon got off on her floor. The elevator continued up to Hardwick's floor, and she exited the elevator, as did Auriemma, according to the lawsuit.
Hardwick claims as she put her key into the door of her rook, Auriemma grabbed her arm and forcibly tried to kiss her on the mouth, the lawsuit states. Hardwick shoved Auriemma and said "What are you doing? You better check yourself before you get hurt."
According to the lawsuit, a red-faced Auriemma turned and walked back toward the elevator.
"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," Auriemma said when contacted by NBC Connecticut.