NIAF News Releases



Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-3106 or

*All-Star Mike Piazza the Evening’s Master of Ceremonies*

** Olympic Gold–Winner Hope Solo, Olympic Diver Brittany Viola at Gala**

(WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 4, 2012) Geno Auriemma
, Head Coach of the Gold Medal-winning USA Basketball Women’s National Team and Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Connecticut, will be honored at the National Italian American Foundation’s (NIAF) 37th Anniversary Awards Gala in Washington, D.C. Auriemma will receive the NIAF Special Achievement Award in Sports on October 13, 2012, at the Washington Hilton. The black-tie event begins with a 6 p.m. reception followed by dinner and an awards ceremony.

Honorees joining Coach Auriemma include Mark Del Rosso, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Audi of America; Giovanni Ferrero, Chief Executive Officer of The Ferrero Group; Ralph Izzo, Chairman, President and CEO of the Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG); Letizia Moratti, President of Friends of San Patrignano; and Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the oldest science academy in the world.

Twelve-time MLB All-Star Mike Piazza will serve as the evening’s master of ceremonies. Piazza will be joined by Olympic Gold-winner Hope Solo, U.S. Olympic Platform Diver Brittany A. Viola, ESPN’s Tony Reali, Italian model Fabio, actor Tony Lo Bianco and many other notables.

During the evening Patricia de Stacy Harrison, a NIAF Vice Chair and President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, will present Marco Simeon, Director of Government and International Relations at RAI, with a NIAF Special Recognition for International Media Relations.

Born in Montella, Italy, Auriemma moved to the United States not knowing that the sport of basketball would change his life forever. Auriemma graduated from West Chester University in Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s of arts in political science. From there, he became assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s University and then took an assistant coaching position at the University of Virginia. Now, after 27 years of coaching the women’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut, Auriemma has guided the team to seven national titles, four perfect seasons, 13 Final Fours, and 37 Big East titles, with over an 800-win mark. He encourages the team to succeed academically as well, with a 100 percent graduation rate among four-year players.

Auriemma has been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the Women Basketball Hall of Fame, and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. Auriemma has also been honored as the national coach of the year seven times and as the BIG EAST Coach of the Year 10 times. As the Head Coach of the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, Auriemma led the team to a gold medal at the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

The NIAF gala is one of the premier annual events in the nation’s capital, attracting more than 2,000 guests from the United States and Italy. Tickets to Saturday’s gala begin at $400 per person. Proceeds benefit NIAF’s educational programs. For tickets or sponsor information, contact Jerry Jones at 202/939-3102 or, or register online at

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage and culture of Americans of Italian descent.

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