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UConn’s Auriemma: ‘I’ll work for free next year’

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Hall of Fame Coach Geno Auriemma is slated to make $2 million coaching UConn women’s basketball next year. Because of state budget cuts, he’s willing to coach for free.

NCAA Womens Basketball: AAC Conference Tournament-UCF vs Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

STORRS, CT. -- Coach Geno Auriemma tread into the state of Connecticut’s wage war, after offering to forgo his salary next year and coach his 11-time national champion University of Connecticut women's basketball team on his own dime.

The Hall of Fame coach would earn over $2 million next year. But after hearing complaints about state budget cuts and UConn employees rolling in the dough, Auriemma figured his wager was nowhere near as important as his contribution to the game.

"I'll tell you what. I'll work for free next year," Auriemma told the Hartford Courant. "I'll give up what the state pays me, what the taxpayers are paying me, but guess what? I pay my taxes and I don't care how much money it costs for me to have good schools where I live in Manchester. My [adult] kids don't go to school there. I can afford it. I want to be proud of our town's education system. Why is it that older people turn their back on education when somebody paid for their kids when they were in school? We've lost sight of what we have to do for other people."

Connecticut still does not have a state budget since Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy is prepared to veto a Republican-backed budget passed by the Legislature, partly because it means significant cuts for the University.

Auriemma, who coached Team USA in the Olympic games, told the Hartford Courant that he understands the situation, but worries cuts in the education system could mean that his grandchildren wouldn’t be able to afford a state university.

"I do not want to come across as someone who doesn't understand what the realities are," Auriemma told the paper. "Not unlike a lot of states, Connecticut is facing real issues of how to pay its obligations. Some people are going to get hurt. I don't know if anyone is going to get helped. This is like a family issue. Everybody is going to have to suffer a little bit.

"You try to be fair to everyone, real about what your priorities are and don't let politics get in the way. Whether it's the politics of UConn lobbying for its benefit or one party or another -- one's in favor, one's against -- and then it's less about the issue and more about who's going to be right and who's going to be wrong."