'Glad we’re in Connecticut': UConn's Geno Auriemma on possible impact of Roe v. Wade reversal on recruiting

Three months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, some states have banned or restricted abortion access while others are moving in that direction.

The issue is resonating throughout college sports — USA Today recently reported the court's decision is causing uncertainty on campuses and one Power Five coach told the news outlet that there's “major panic” across women’s college sports — and there could be an impact on recruiting for schools in states with restrictions or a ban on reproductive right. 

And some of the biggest programs in college sports are based in those states.

Abortion access remains legal in Connecticut, which codified the law years ago. Gov. Ned Lamont has pitched the state's reproduction laws for businesses to relocate and Connecticut is a "safe harbor" state. 

"If it is true ... that schools, through no fault of their own, are being punished because of where those schools happen to be located, so if that’s the case, I’m glad we’re here," UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma recently said. "I’m glad we’re in this state. I’m glad we’re in Connecticut."

Associate head coach Chris Dailey said she has not been asked about the issue by recruits — yet.

"I’m not sure if it will (be an issue)," Dailey said. "It may. It absolutely might but I don’t know if right now ... if they’re (recruits) in the position right now to know everything about it. They’re learning just like every kid their age."

Former UConn star Sue Bird, who recently completed her final WNBA season, said in a USA Today story that she's had a discussion about how the ruling may impact free agency. Will players avoid Dallas or Atlanta or another team in a state with limited reproductive rights?

"For every woman, that’s a real thing, to think about where you are going to live based on your rights," Bird said.

The same thinking may shape how a recruit and her parents approach the college choice. 

But Auriemma said it's not a subject UConn recruiters will broach when competing for a player with another school. 

"I don’t recruit in that vain and in that mode," Auriemma said. "For me, it’s not, ‘Don’t go there because this.’ That might be exactly why a kid wants to go there so I never get into that. For me, it’s, ‘This is why you should come here. This is why you should come play at UConn. This is why you should be in this environment.’ Not, ‘Why you shouldn’t be there at their place.’ I always look at it as, do the coaches at those schools, did they go to the state legislature and say, ‘Hey, I think we should have a rule that’s unfair to a majority of women in America.’ I don’t think they did that. So, you really can’t.

"You may say, ‘Hey, I don’t really like the way so-and-so coaches. I don’t like their style of play. I don’t like the way they run their offense.’ Because that’s a choice that they made and that defines them as a coach. Again if you say, ‘Look, why would you want to go there? Look at their style of play.’ You don’t know if in the back of their head, some kid is thinking, ‘That’s exactly how I want to play.’ So I don’t say anything about that kind of stuff."

Auriemma has met presidents through White House visits as an NCAA champion and as the former U.S, Olympic coach. He is politically engaged and has never been reluctant to express his views.

His opinion of the Supreme Court decision?

"I always struggle with politically how there can be laws enacted that the majority of the country isn’t in favor of," Auriemma said. "Like, I always thought that it’s important that the majority of the people get to decide what kind of system they want to live in. So, I struggle to understand how the majority of the people in America want A, yet the law now says B. So, I can imagine that that’s going to impact an awful lot of people and whether that carries over into where to go to school, I don’t know."

maggie.vanoni@hearstmediact.com  @maggie_vanoni