NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- UConn coach Geno Auriemma says there's no other avenue for the Huskies to follow now that the NCAA has denied an appeal that would have allowed Tennessee transfer Evina Westbrook to play with them this season.
Auriemma made clear Wednesday night after a 64-51 victory over Vanderbilt that he's not happy with either the decision or the NCAA's reasons for it. 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 know 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 they 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 Westbrook, a 6-foot guard, to sit out a season. Westbrook was a co-leading scorer for the Lady Vols last season. She averaged 14.9 points and 5.3 assists.
Auriemma refused to discuss what wasn't necessarily normal at Tennessee.
UConn said it provided more than 100 pages of supporting documentation, and Tennessee didn't oppose the waiver application. Auriemma said UConn asked Tennessee to support Westbrook's appeal.
"They said, 'We've moved on,'" Auriemma said.
Auriemma said UConn saw this as a special situation, which is why the university went as far as it did in appealing. Previously, players transferring to UConn simply had to sit out the season.
"And it's got nothing to do with it would make our team better," Auriemma said. "This team needs a lot more than Evina Westbrook to get better, trust me. It's not about that."
UConn athletic director David Benedict said in a statement he believes the system failed.
The fourth-ranked Huskies received the news just before their game. Senior guard Crystal Dangerfield said they gave Westbrook a group hug. The junior guard will have two years of eligibility remaining when she suits up for UConn next season.
Auriemma said she'll be kept busy.
"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."