UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey will coach the Huskies for the first time since 2019 for Sunday’s first-round NCAA Tournament game against High Point after it was announced Monday that head coach Geno Auriemma has to quarantine for 10 days due to a positive COVID-19 test. It’s not the first time she’s coached the Huskies in Auriemma’s absence.
Here are five things to know about Chris Dailey, or CD, as she’s also known:
UConn is 10-0 under Dailey. “I don’t think you can get a coach that has a better record in the tournament than she does,” Auriemma said Monday night. In 1989, she coached UConn to the team’s first Big East title while Auriemma served a suspension due to a scheduling issue. In 1997, she coached the Huskies to another Big East title after Auriemma’s father died. In 2018-19, she coached two regular-season games against Wichita State and Tulsa when Auriemma was ill and another game in 2019-20 against Oklahoma while Auriemma recovered from surgery to alleviate symptoms caused by diverticulitis.
Dailey was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville in 2018, alongside Mickie DeMoss, an assistant coach for UConn’s archrival Tennessee. Dailey and DeMoss were the first assistants to be inducted. She’s also in the Connecticut Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and the New Jersey Sportswriters Hall of Fame.
Dailey was the captain her junior and senior years at Rutgers, and the Scarlet Knights won the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) national title in 1982, her senior year. Rutgers beat Texas 83-77 in Philadelphia in the final. That year, both the NCAA and the AIAW had national championships but 1982 was the AIAW’s last year.
The first time Dailey went back to her alma mater as a UConn coach was in 1994 when UConn played in the regional semifinals and final at the Rutgers Athletic Center and the Huskies lost to North Carolina — who went on to win the national championship — in the final. Dailey’s team photo (with the players sporting their 80s-era uniforms, hairstyles and short shorts, “looking like a geek,” she said) from the national championship team was on the wall at the RAC and the UConn players thought it was hysterical. When UConn returned to play Rutgers in 1996, Dailey asked them if they could cover the pictures so she didn’t have to hear about it.
Dailey originally planned upon graduation that she would teach health and physical education and coach in high school. That dream turned sour when she did a student-teaching stint at Spotswood (N.J.) High her senior year. “It was the worst experience of my life,” she told The Courant in 2012. “Nobody wants to take gym in high school.” Luckily, she got an offer to coach at Cornell and spent a year there before returning to coach at Rutgers for two years under her coach, Theresa Grentz. In 1985, she was offered $22,000 to come to UConn to be Auriemma’s assistant and the rest is history. Dailey earned a masters degree in educational administration from UConn in 1999 and in 2005, she was honored with a Distinguished Alumna Award by UConn’s NEAG School of Education.
Lori Riley can be reached at email@example.com.