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UConn Coaches Participate In Panel At Pentagon

Kevin Ollie at the Pentagon.

May 7, 2014

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - UConn's duo of 2014 NCAA national champion basketball coaches, men's coach Kevin Ollie and women's coach Geno Auriemma, joined a renowned group of USA Basketball coaches on a visit to the Pentagon on Wednesday for a strategy seminar with military officials and conducted a panel discussion on leadership for more than 400 service members. 

            Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, in collaboration with USA Basketball, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and their NBA Cares Hoops for Troops program, played host to coaches from the USA Basketball Men's and Women's National teams and NCAA collegiate teams.  The group of seven coaches, which featured six with extensive USA Basketball coaching experiences, also participated in a leadership panel discussion in the Pentagon Auditorium.     

            The panel discussion was televised on The Pentagon Channel and webcast at starting at 1:30 p.m.

            "These preeminent coaches lead their own world-class teams in USA Basketball and the NCAA," said Dempsey.  "We discussed the importance of dynamic leadership to building winning teams and also exposed these coaches to what our world-class military team brings to the nation."

            In addition to Auriemma, who is also the head coach for the USA Basketball Women's National Team, and Ollie, the coaches on the panel included: Jim Boeheim, assistant coach for the USA Basketball Men's National Team and head coach of Syracuse University men's basketball, Jamie Dixon, head coach of University of Pittsburgh men's basketball, Tom Izzo, head coach of Michigan State University men's basketball, Tubby Smith, head coach of Texas Tech University men's basketball, and Jay Wright, head coach of Villanova University men's basketball.  Jay Bilas, ESPN college basketball analyst, will moderate the panel discussion.

            "I'd like to thank General Dempsey and his staff for this incredible opportunity. We're delighted to contribute back to the military community in any way we can," said Jim Tooley, USA Basketball CEO/Executive Director. "USA Basketball is also extremely proud and very appreciative that these seven great coaches will again give back to their country. It's an honor to have them continue to represent USA Basketball, the NCAA, as well as their respective universities in such a positive and valuable manner. I'm sure this will be a great learning experience for everyone."

            The open panel discussion focussed on challenges facing championship-level teams and the U.S. military.  Among the topics will be how to motivate and inspire people towards pursuit of a common goal, how to mentor young adults for a lifetime of positive contributions, how to recruit and retain the best talent, and how to better integrate a diverse group of people.

            The strategy seminar with Gen. Dempsey and the coaches provided a venue for the USA Basketball coaches and military leadership to talk about shared values, common themes, and applicable lessons learned over long and successful professional careers.

            These two events are part of an expanding relationship between the USA Basketball, NBA, and the Department of Defense (DoD) focused on "Commitment to Service."  

            Through "Commitment to Service," U.S. service members and athletes will serve side-by-side to address challenges and contribute to their local communities.   The program will focus on four pillars - Transition, Community, Leadership and Health - and feature a full schedule of events across the country including USO Tours with legends of the game, exhibition games, clinics, open practices, speaking engagements, meet-and-greets, game tickets and more.

            "These are two great institutions - American's premier sports teams and our military - that are the best in the world at what they do," Dempsey said. "I'm excited about collaborating with the NBA and USA Basketball to serve the communities in which we live and work, and to improve our game."