The greatest rivalry in women’s college basketball is set to return. On Tuesday, UConn announced they would begin a home-and-home series with the Tennessee Lady Volunteers beginning in Hartford for the 2019-20 season. The Huskies will then make the return trip to Knoxville in 2020-2021.
A portion of the proceeds from the games will benefit the Pat Summitt Foundation and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I am happy to have the Lady Vols back on our schedule and am thrilled that proceeds to our games will benefit such an important endeavor like the Pat Summitt Foundation,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said in the release. “I know our fans will be excited to renew the rivalry with Tennessee and expect them to fill the building for some good basketball and a great cause.”
UConn and Tennessee have not played since the 2007 season when Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt abruptly cancelled the series. While she never explicitly said it, Summitt was reportedly upset with Auriemma’s recruiting tactics. In 2006, she sent the SEC a 30-page letter accusing Auriemma’s program of eight separate recruiting violations.
Summitt’s biggest griveance was over UConn arranging a tour of ESPN for then-top recruit Maya Moore, who eventually chose the Huskies over the Lady Volunteers. UConn self-reported the incident and it was viewed as a secondary violation with no penalty.
The two coaches exchanged barbs through the media over the next few years and never got over the feud to renew the series.
In 2011, Summitt announced she had been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease and retired after the 2011-12 season. She died on June 28, 2016 at the age of 64.
The Lady Volunteers are now led by Holly Warlick, an assistant under Summit since 1985. While Tennessee has certainly not been bad, they have not lived up to the program’s lofty standards the past few seasons.
They have not reached a Final Four since winning back-to-back national championships in 2007 and 2008 and have failed to get past the second round of the NCAA Tournament over the last two years.
The first-ever matchup between UConn and Tennessee came in the 1994-95 season when the upstart Huskies met the No. 1 Lady Volunteers in front of a sold-out Gampel Pavilion. UConn won 77-66 and earned their first No. 1 ranking. A few months later, the Huskies defeated Tennessee once again to capture their first national title.
UConn leads the all-time series 13-9, including a 4-0 edge in national championship games. However, Tennessee has won the last three meetings.