A lawsuit filed this week claims that the head coach of the U.S. women's basketball team successfully demanded that a female security director be removed from her assignment for the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London after she rebuffed his sexual advances.
Kelley Hardwick, 46, filed the employment discrimination lawsuit Monday in New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, alleging that coach Geno Auriemma followed her to her hotel room, grabbed her arm and tried to kiss her during a 2009 tournament trip to Russia with the women's senior national team.
Auriemma called the allegations "beyond false," pledging to defend himself "to the fullest," ESPN reported. Neither Auriemma nor his attorney, Solomon Kerensky, responded to multiple phone calls and emails from CNN requesting comment.
Hardwick, a former New York City detective and law school graduate, said she pushed the coach away and reported the incident, but said nothing was done, according to the lawsuit.
"What are you doing?" the lawsuit says Hardwick yelled at Auriemma during the alleged encounter. "You better check yourself before you get hurt!"
"After being rebuffed (Auriemma) red-faced, turned and walked quickly back in the direction of the elevators," according to the lawsuit.
Later, she said Auriemma began to "act vindictively towards her" and demanded that the National Basketball Association relieve her of her travel assignments with the squad, according to the lawsuit.
She was ultimately told in March that she would not be overseeing security during this summer's Olympics, the lawsuit said.
"Having received no prior complaints regarding performance of her (USA Basketball) related duties, (Hardwick) was convinced ... Auriemma had exercised his influence through USAB and the NBA to retaliate against her for rejecting his prior sexual advance and causing him embarrassment and discomfort with her continued presence," the lawsuit said.
Auriemma, 58, told The New York Times that prior to reviewing media reports, he had been "unaware of this lawsuit."
Hardwick further alleges in the suit that she has been routinely discriminated against by the NBA, claiming she was denied promotions and raises because she is a woman, despite an extensive resume of experience, including working as a security official for the U.S. Olympic teams that competed in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing in 2008.
"It's baffling why she, a trained and experienced security director, would be removed from this assignment with two Olympics under her belt," said Hardwick's attorney, Randolph McLaughlin.
The NBA and USA Basketball, which are also named in the lawsuit, could not be immediately reached for comment on the allegations. Ron Howard, a spokesman for the Women's National Basketball Association, said his office does "not comment on pending legal matters."
Auriemma, who is also head coach of the University of Connecticut women's basketball team, is considered among the nation's top coaches, steering the Huskies to seven national titles over his 27 years with the team.
He was named coach of the U.S. national team in 2009, having been an assistant coach to the gold medalist 2000 team that competed in Sydney, Australia.
The University of Connecticut was not available for comment regarding the lawsuit.