Blogs > Elm City to Eagleville

A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Donehew anxious to get started

At first glance, it would seem as if Danielle Donehew's background at a certain women's basketball powerhouse in the SEC might have been a detriment in the Big East's newly hired Assistant Commissioner for Women's Basketball's attempt to build a relationship with the conference's most prominent women's basketball coach.

Nothing could be further from the truth. UConn's Geno Auriemma is aware that Donehew spent seven years working for Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt before spending the last two seasons as the executive vice president of the WNBA's Atlanta Dream.

Donehew, who worked side by side with Summitt and was a part of a program Auriemma dubbed "The Evil Empire" during the height of the fierce UConn/Tennessee rivalry, will be the person entrusted with all things women's basketball in the Big East's Providence, R.I. headquarters.

Donna DeMarco, a UConn grad who earned respect and admiration from Auriemma from her work when she held the job Donehew will assume starting on Nov. 16, was the one who broke it to Auriemma that Donehew was emerging at the top candidate as DeMarco was moving over to take the Assistant Commissioner/Administration job left vacant when John Marinatto was named the Big East Commissioner.

"I remember Donna DeMarco and I had a conversation when they came down to the last couple and Donna said 'I think we are going to hire her,'" Auriemma said. "She chuckled and said 'what do you think about that?' I said '99 percent of the people in Tennessee I like.' I don't have a problem with that at all. She is the best person for the job. I am happy to get her."

Donehew knew her time in Knoxville would come up in her initial chat with Auriemma, which is did. She was thrilled that while her choice of employers was good for a chuckle or two, she wants the same thing as Auriemma - whatever is best for the Big East.

"He knows, we talked," Donehew said with a laugh. "He knows I am going to be cheering for him. I am real excited that he is the Olympic coach and I am also excited about his team this year. I think they are going to be fun to watch and a great asset to our conference."

I also asked Donehew about the future of the Dream considering some rumors have been circulating about their staying power.

"I have high hopes for the Dream and for the future of the franchise. Over the last two years we built a great product. We were able to take an expansion team that only won four games in the first year to 18 wins in the second year and a playoff berth. I am really pleased with what we built. I think over the time the Dream will continue to build and be something that the WNBA will be very proud of.

"There are always rumors, in an economy such as this funding is always tough but I am excited to say that there are some new investors at the table," Donehew said. "I can't get into any details right now but I do think over time there will be some new investors that are going to come in and make a huge difference."

Auriemma and Barbara Oliver, a 22-year cancer survivor, will be speaking at an event to benefit the Kay Yow WBCA Breast Cancer Fund and The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Two student-run a capella groups performing as well at the event inside UConn's Student Union.

The event will run from 7-9 p.m. Monday at the Student Union Theatre.

UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph is among those expected to take part in the Strike 3 Foundation First Pitch Celebrity Sports Gala at the Omni Hotel in New Haven on Nov. 7.

Here's the info I have about the event.

Join Oakland A's pitcher Craig Breslow at The Strike 3 Foundation First Pitch Celebrity Gala to benefit pediatric cancer research at Yale New Haven Hospital and the Connecticut Childrens Medical Center.

Celebrity attendees include Nomar Garciaparra, Andrew Bailey, Jack Cust, Bobby Valentine, Vin Mazzaro, Rajai Davis, Pete Walker, Roger LaFrancois, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Shea Ralph, Ed Randall, George Grand, Tom Verducci and Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino.

The evening includes dinner, live entertainment and a keynote address by Nomar Garciaparra. Our extensive auction item list contains golf packages, weekend getaways, dining experiences, Yankee and Red Sox field passes and countless autographed memorabilia including Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, Dustin Pedroia, John Lester and many others.

For more info, visit If you are going specifically just to see Ralph at the end, I would contact the organizers just to make sure because speakers and celebrity appearances at events such as this one are subject to change.

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