University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma and Italy native became a United States’ citizen in 1994, but he admits that he doesn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance.

This revelation came out when the university decided that all basketball and football games this season will begin with the familiar patriotic refrain. It’s their way of commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

School officials have stated, amid some protest, that the reciting of the pledge is not mandatory, and believe that students will ultimately choose for themselves whether to participate.

“It makes us realize that there’s a lot more going on out there than what we’re doing on the court,” women’s basketball player Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis said. “There’s still people out there fighting for our country. And definitely saying the Pledge of Allegiance gets us a little more ready for the national anthem.”

For his part, Auriemma suggests a different way to honor America before games: have the school band perform the national anthem.

“When I go to Europe with the US national team, you can’t hear anything other than every voice in the building singing their country’s national anthem,” he said. “That would be way more meaningful, for me personally as an American, to have everybody in the building sing the national anthem at the top of their lungs, like they really, truly believe in what America stands for. I think sometimes the Pledge of Allegiance becomes kind of rote.”

[Associated Press]