UConn and Tennessee Women’s Basketball Teams To Renew Rivalry
The UConn and Tennessee Women's basketball teams haven't faced off since 2007. That will change in 2020 and 2021 as a storied rivalry is back on.
ESPN announced today that Tennessee will play at UConn in January 2020, and the Huskies will travel to Vol Country in 2021. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation and the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, which helped arrange the deal between the basketball powerhouses.
UConn and Tennessee had a great rivalry over the years, with the Huskies winning 11 national titles and the Lady Vols winning 8. In 22 meetings total between the teams, UConn is 13-9.
The teams stopped playing each other in 2007, when the not-always-friendly rivalry between UConn coach Geno Auriemma and then-Tennessee coach Pat Summitt boiled over. Tennessee accused UConn of recruiting violations. Auriemma and Summitt's relationship improved after Summit's Alzheimer's diagnosis. Summitt died in 2016. Auriemma told the Courant in 2016,
Our sport is synonymous with Pat Summitt, and Pat Summitt is synonymous with women's basketball. We don't have a long history, women's basketball. The history before Tennessee and before Pat Summitt is checkered. There wasn't a lot of media attention. There wasn't a lot of interest in the game. There wasn't a lot of support from universities.
I lived in Knoxville for a couple of years during the late 1990's, and can tell you first hand that the rivalry was definitely bigtime. I totally spaced and wore a Huskies shirt around town a couple of times, and it was like walking into Stan's Sports Bar in the Bronx with a Red Sox shirt on. The rivalry between the two colleges had a lot to do with putting Women's college basketball on the map nationally. I for one am glad it's back.