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Baseketball coaches contribute to academics (Released: 12/3/98)

by Karen A. Grava, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- Geno Auriemma and Jim Calhoun, UConn's two basketball coaches, are each making gifts that together total more than a quarter million dollars to benefit the University of Connecticut.

Women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma will contribute $125,000 to Homer Babbidge Library at the University's main campus in Storrs, while men's basketball coach Jim Calhoun will donate $125,000 to the cardiology program at the UConn Health Center.

Receptions honoring the coaches and commemorating their gifts took place last week. On Monday, Nov. 23, Auriemma, and his wife, Kathy, and family were honored in the Reserve Reading Room of the library, while Calhoun, his wife, Patricia, and family were honored on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at the UConn Health Center in Farmington.

"I appreciate the extraordinary support that Geno and Jim demonstrate with these generous gifts. Through their thoughtfulness, the coaches recognize the breadth of the University's excellent programs and the value UConn provides its students and the citizens of Connecticut,"

President Philip E. Austin said. "It is especially pleasing, at a time when our teams are both ranked number one nationally, that our coaches are focusing their generosity on academics, giving back to their University and emphasizing the importance of private support in building and sustaining a great University."

The Auriemma gift enhances the scope and quality of the programs of the University's main library and will be matched with $1 for every $2 of the gift through the state's endowment matching grant program. Funds will be used to purchase books, new technology and related library resources for the benefit of University students, faculty and staff. A plaque commemorating the gift will name the newly-renovated reserve reading area in the Homer Babbidge Library in honor of the Auriemma Family.

Auriemma, who had a job in his college library, said "Some of my best moments in college were spent in the library ­ working, reading, studying, listening to music, and just thinking.

"My players have benefited more from this academic institution than from just playing basketball," he said. "It's a pleasure to be able to contribute to strengthening the University of Connecticut at its academic core."

Half of the Calhoun gift will provide funding to support the work of physicians and researchers in the School of Medicine working on a new non-invasive technique to diagnose and treat patients at risk of heart disease.

The other half of the Calhoun gift will provide an endowed Cardiology Research Fellowship. This portion of the Calhoun contribution will also be matched on a $1 for $2 basis through the state's endowment matching grant program.

In recognition of the gift, the patient and family reception suite in the cardiopulmonary unit of the Health Center's John Dempsey Hospital has been named for Jim and Pat Calhoun.

Calhoun, who was treated several years ago at the Health Center, said he wanted to give back to the institution and to underscore the importance of good health care.

"As one of the nation's leading university medical centers, the UConn Health Center provides cardiac care to patients from the local community, the state and the region. I am delighted that Pat and I can assist with that and can help support such important research,"

Calhoun said. "Our gift will not only further cardiac research but also will assist in medical education and patient care."

Austin said, "Even the most exciting basketball game will only affect lives temporarily. These gifts, and others like them, are affecting lives in perpetuity as they help to strengthen the University and invigorate its programs."