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A blog on UConn women's basketball.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Geno Auriemma: Aaron Hernandez situation "is just sad"

Geno Auriemma spent some time with the media before the start of his annual golf tournament at the Hartford Golf Club and addressed a variety of topics, However, none were as timely as his reaction to the situation New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is involved in.

Hernandez was one of the players on the AAU team Auriemma coached and he always spoke very highly of Hernandez and was thrilled to see him emerge into an impact player in the NFL.

Auriemma admitted he doesn't have much contact with Hernandez these days but like so many around these parts, he is shocked that Hernandez's name has been linked to a homicide investigation.

"Anytime you see anybody that you know that you've had any kind of relationship go through a situation like he is in right now you can't helped but be shocked about it," Auriemma said.

"It is just sad, no matter how it comes out it is sad."

Auriemma has nothing but positive memories of coaching Hernandez and the rest of the team which included his son Michael.

"He was 16, when his dad was around all of the time, his mom was around all of the time, he was friends with all the guys on the team," Auriemma said. "For me it was easy but then again I didn't go home with him, I just saw him for a couple of hours a week when we were practicing and on the weekends when we had trips so it is not like I knew him like I knew my son

"The Aaron I knew was 16/17 and (now) Aaron is 24 - two entirely different people as anybody else would be."

Auriemma admitted that it is every coach's worst nightmare to have players deal with serious off the field issues.

"I guess that is one of the differences between pros and college," Auriemma said. "If you were coaching in college and one of your players was involved in a situation like that, the college coach would immediately be held responsible, you and your program would be almost as responsible as the individual who was involved in that situation but in the pros it is all on you. That is why it is so hard when you are coaching and you are responsible for bringing kids up to campus, you have 17 year old, 18 year old kids coming to campus for the next four years you don't really know them so anytime you are a coach and a player of yours gets involved in a situation ..."

Auriemma grew up as a fans of the Philadelphia Eagles but he has been at various events with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick over the years and has followed Hernandez's successful run in New England from a distance.

"I watch every game as much as I can," Auriemma said. "I think living up here, having him play the way he played and having the success he has had you can't help but feel good about it and feel good for him and be happy for him. You talk about a kid who was 16 years old and playing in these AAU tournaments, getting in a van and driving, doing dumb stuff as 15 and 16 year old kids do and you turn on the TV on day and he is headbutting Tom Brady after scoring a touchdown, that is not real life. How many times do you get watch an NFL player and say 'hey, I know that kid. He used to hang around the corner.' I think all of his friends, family, high school coaches, everybody I think everybody is like 'wow, I am really proud of him.'"

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