NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Phillip Fulmer has addressed the comments made by UConn's Geno Auriemma on the Lady Vols program following the denial of former Lady Vol Evina Westbrook's appeal to play with them this season.
Fulmer told WVLT Sports reporter Zack Rickens that, "I'm very proud of our program and what we've done here" and added that he would rather talk about the Lady Vols win against Notre Dame.
Auriemma made clear Wednesday night after a 64-51 win over Vanderbilt that he’s not happy with either the decision or the NCAA’s reasons. He noted the original NCAA release on Westbrook’s waiver request called her issues at Tennessee a normal situation that happens on a lot of campuses.
“Well you now what?” Auriemma said. “A lot of campuses should shut down their programs if that’s normal. That’s basically what they’re saying. Say something else. Say anything. Don’t say that’s normal. That’s the word the used: ‘That’s normal.’”
UConn argued that issues at Tennessee, which fired coach Holly Warlick in March, met the NCAA’s recently revised standards for a waiver of the rule requiring the 6-foot guard to sit out a season.
While Westbrook was still with the Lady Vols, Westbrook spoke on camera to WVLT News following UT's loss to UCLA last season, a loss that ended the Lady Vols' tournament bid.
Postgame comments from Tennessee's Evina Westbrook regarding where the Lady Vols program goes from here. pic.twitter.com/glS3IkBydi— Caleb Noe (@wvltCaleb) March 23, 2019
Westbrook said, "Steps need to be taken with our staff. Just overall, off the court." At the time, she said she did not know about former Lady Vol head coach Holly Warlick's future with the program. Shortly after the loss, Warlick was fired.
Auriemma said UConn saw Westbrook's predicament as a special situation, which is why the university went as far as it did in appealing.
“She’s got a lot of work to do to get healthy,” Auriemma said. “She’s got a lot of work to do to get involved in our program a little bit more, and she’s just going to have to use this year to just get bigger and better and stronger and all those things. But she’s a tough kid, she’s a tough kid.”
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