STORRS, Conn. – Dan Hurley became a hot commodity after coaching Rhode Island to two straight NCAA Tournaments. On Thursday, he left for a bigger name in New England basketball.
Hurley jumped across state lines to join a UConn team that has won four NCAA titles in 20 years but is under NCAA investigation and just finished a second straight losing season. The Huskies fired coach Kevin Ollie this month.
“This program, which is part of one of the top public universities in the country, has a championship history and wonderful support from a passionate fan base,” Hurley said in a statement. “I look forward to continuing this proud tradition.”
Hurley was 113-82 in six seasons with the Rams, who went 26-8 this year before losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Duke. It was the second straight trip to the tournament for the Rams, who won their first regular-season Atlantic-10 championship.
“No other way to put it: Dan Hurley is on fire – the perfect coach for a storied program like UConn’s,” university President Susan Herbst told The Associated Press. “At a top public university, with four men’s NCAA championships and eleven women’s championships, we can get the best and we expect greatness.”
The 45-year-old Hurley played at Seton Hall during its Big East rivalry with UConn in the 1990s. He is the son of Hall of Fame high school coach Bob Hurley Sr. and the brother of Arizona State coach Bob Hurley.
The school said Hurley has agreed to a six-year deal and will receive a package worth $2.75 million in the first season. The school said further details would be released during a Friday news conference.
The base salary would be much less, with the difference made up through perks such as speaking engagements and media appearances, a UConn official told the AP. The official, not authorized to discuss the deal, spoke on condition of anonymity.
Hurley would be paid from athletic department funds, such as money from tickets and licensing, and not the school’s general budget, the official added.
Before taking over at Rhode Island, Hurley coached for two seasons at Wagner and led the school to 25 wins in 2011-12. He also was considered a leading candidate for the vacant coaching job at of Pittsburgh.
Before becoming a college head coach, Hurley coached St. Benedict’s prep school in Newark, New Jersey, compiling a 223-21 record over nine seasons.
“His proven track record of developing student-athletes and preparing them for productive lives both in and outside of basketball perfectly aligns with UConn’s values,” said David Benedict, UConn’s athletic director.
UConn won its fourth national championship in 2014 but has fallen on hard times recently. The Huskies went 14-18 this year and 16-17 in 2016-17 after going 30 years without a losing season.
The program also is under an NCAA investigating amid reports of recruiting violations and that team members may have participated in impermissible workouts before the season.
UConn is trying to terminate Ollie’s contract “with cause,” which would save the school from having to pay the more than $10 million left on the five year deal that expires in 2021.
Ollie has said he will fight that decision and a hearing involving him, his union and the school is expected to be held this week.
Michael Bailey, the executive director of the university chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said Ollie could then appeal any decision to UConn’s president.
“If the president decides to continue to seek termination, UConn-AAUP will make the decision to take the case to arbitration,” Bailey said in an email.
It’s not clear how many players from UConn’s team plan to return next season.
Terry Larrier, a transfer from Virginia Commonwealth with another year of eligibility remaining, has announced he will turn pro. The Huskies also said this week they were releasing their top recruit, guard James Akinjo from Richmond, California, from his commitment to the school.
Thorr Bjorn, Rhode Island’s athletic director, said the school made an “aggressive offer” to keep Hurley. He added that the school hopes to have a new coach in the next 2 1/2 weeks, and Rams assistant David Cox is a candidate.
“I’m a little bummed,” Bjorn said. “I loved working with (Hurley). I loved the idea of where we were going to get to.”
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