On April 6, 2004, the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team under coach Geno Auriemma made national history after defeating their fiercest rival, the University of Tennessee, in the NCAA National Championship in New Orleans. For the Lady Huskies, the 70 – 61 victory marked their 3rd straight year of taking home the national title. It was also the team’s 5th national championship overall, and their fourth won in the past five years.
As incredible as the Lady Huskies’ “three-peat” was, the UConn community had even more reason to celebrate after the win in New Orleans. The night before, the UConn men’s basketball team, led by senior Emeka Okafor and coached by Jim Calhoun, had won their national championship, beating Georgia Tech 82 – 73 in San Antonio . It was the men’s second championship in six years. The dual victories marked the first time in the history of NCAA Division I basketball that the same school had won both the men’s and women’s titles in the same year, marking an undeniable high point in the history of Connecticut sports.
There was even more to celebrate. In addition to the unprecedented national victories, the Lady Huskies star-among-stars player, senior guard Diana Taurasi, was also named the NCAA’s Most Outstanding Player — hardly a surprise to the UConn fans who had watched Taurasi dominate the court during her four years on the team.
Twelve days after the women’s victory in New Orleans, an estimated crowd of 250,000 – 300,000 people flocked to the streets of Hartford to participate in a day of festivities celebrating the Huskies’ historic dual championships. The Hartford Courant reported that it was the largest gathering in the city since the end of World War II. Congratulatory banners hung from downtown skyscrapers as the men’s and women’s basketball teams waved to an adoring crowd during the “Parade of Champions.”
Since UConn’s dual NCAA championship victories in 2004, the seemingly unrepeatable feat has been accomplished one other time. A decade after the Huskies’ record-breaking basketball season, in 2014, the nation’s basketball fans saw men’s and women’s basketball teams from the same school win dual NCAA championships again. The victorious school? The University of Connecticut — yet again.
Richard Veilleux, “Twin National Championships Are A First In Division I Basketball,” UConn Advance
“UConn men and women both won national titles 10 years ago,” New Haven Register