NEW YORK (Reuters) - A security director for the National Basketball Association accused Geno Auriemma, the coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team, of forcibly trying to kiss her during a 2009 overseas basketball tournament in a lawsuit filed Monday.
In the suit, filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, Kelley Hardwick said Auriemma followed her to her hotel room during a trip to Russia with the national team, grabbed her arm and tried to kiss her.
While she rebuffed his advances, he retaliated earlier this year by persuading the NBA to remove Hardwick as the top security official for the women’s team at the London Olympics this summer, the lawsuit contends.
In a statement, Auriemma said the claim was “beyond false.”
“I will defend myself to the fullest, and I‘m confident that the truth will ultimately prevail,” he said. “In the meantime, I remain focused on representing the United States this summer and getting our team ready to compete for the gold medal.”
Auriemma, the longtime coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, has won seven national titles. The 2012 Olympic team includes six UConn graduates among its 12 players.
The lawsuit names Auriemma, the NBA and USA Basketball as defendants and asserts that Hardwick “has slammed against the NBA’s glass ceiling” since 2005.
“The NBA maintained and continues to maintain a discriminatory workplace where plaintiff has been continually denied promotions based on her gender,” the lawsuit states.
Hardwick also said she reported the Auriemma incident to her superiors but that the NBA conducted a shoddy investigation, failing to interview Auriemma about the allegations.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the league does not comment on pending litigation. USA Basketball could not be reached outside normal business hours.
Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Christopher Wilson