Geno Auriemma will return to coach the U.S. women’s basketball team at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press.
USA Basketball will discuss the move at a news conference Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the appointment of the Connecticut coach had not been announced.
Auriemma will be the first repeat coach for the U.S. women’s Olympic basketball team, which has won a gold medal at the past five games. Mike Krzyzewski decided in May he would return to coach the men for a third time.
Auriemma’s team cruised through the 2012 London Games, winning by an average of 34 points, including an 86-50 rout of France for the title.
Since the end of the Olympics, Auriemma has denied interest in coaching in Rio and said he would not return if asked. The 59-year-old Hall of Famer compared the experience to eating a bowl of his favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream.
“The second bowl doesn’t taste as good as the first one,” he said. “It never has, and it never will.”
Still, he has a chance now to be the first women’s coach to repeat as a gold medalist.
Auriemma said he felt his Olympic duties took too much time from his coaching at Connecticut. Still, the Huskies won an eighth national championship in April to match Tennessee for the most in women’s basketball. With most of his team returning, including Breanna Stewart, the Huskies look poised to repeat.
On the Olympic squad, Auriemma can expect the return of veterans Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird and Tamika Catchings. In fact, most of the roster from the 2012 Games could return with stars Candace Parker, Maya Moore and Tina Charles all reaching their prime — not to mention a wealth of young talent in WNBA rookies Elena Delle Donne and Brittney Griner.
TOKYO, MADRID, ISTANBUL MAKE FINAL PUSH: In a tight race to land the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo bid leaders focused on the country’s clean record in doping, while NBA star Pau Gasol tried to help Madrid by saying the games could boost his nation’s ailing economy.
Tokyo is hoping to turn the spotlight from the radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in northern Japan, while Madrid is looking to fend off concerns related to Spain’s high unemployment rate and economic struggles.
The host city will be selected Saturday by the IOC, joined by the third candidate, Istanbul. The Turkish city also faces questions about a string of embarrassing doping cases and a civil war in Syria on its border.
Tokyo is considered the favorite, although the race is viewed as too close to call. IOC members may settle for the bid with the fewest problems.
Madrid has tried to deflect inquires about the 27-percent unemployment rate in one of Europe’s largest economies, and Gasol was quick to say the city’s bid poses “no risks.”
“We are promoting sports here,” he said. “But hosting the Olympic Games at home would also be a big boost for our society.”
Istanbul bid leader Hasan Arat shunned celebrities and introduced 20 young people as the face of Turkey.