Dan Hurley returned to the Rhode Island campus on Tuesday to discuss his future with his team, his staff and athletic director Thorr Bjorn.
Hurley spoke with UConn and Pittsburgh officials about their head coaching positions on Monday, and discussed those offers with Bjorn, a source said, who was also pushing to keep his coach. Hurley then brought his team up to date on his status.
Pitt, as expected, offered Hurley a multiyear deal worth more than $3 million per year, reported Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports and Fanragsports. Rothstein reported that UConn and URI were “still in play” for Hurley, which a source confirmed for The Courant.
The Pitt offer would be roughly triple what Hurley was making at URI, where he led the Rams to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They were eliminated by Duke on Saturday, finishing 26-8.
The UConn and URI offers are said to be less, but how much less is the key. Hurley, 45, is said by friends and associates to prefer the UConn job, which opened when Kevin Ollie was fired on March 10, but would not take significantly less than he could get somewhere else. So if UConn offered $2 million, they would probably have to raise their offer.
Another possibility: Pittsburgh, if it does not get Hurley, could make a move for Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, whose father, Ralph, coached Pitt in the 1980s. That would open up the Seton Hall job — and that is Hurley’s alma mater and near his Jersey roots. Also, the Xavier job could open if Chris Mack moves to Louisville, or elsewhere.
A source familiar with Hurley does not believe those possibilities will affect his decision, but believes Pitt improved its chances of getting Hurley with its $3 million-per-year offer. UConn has been considered by many as the front-runner to land him.
According to Rothstein, Hurley could make his decision sometime on Wednesday.
UConn was paying Ollie more than $3 million per year, and he was signed through 2021. In firing him, UConn has initiated the procedure to fire him for “just cause,” citing the NCAA inquiry into the program, in which case they would not have to pay, or perhaps prompt him to bargain for a lesser buyout. The UConn chapter of the American Association of University Professors is contesting the “just cause” firing on Ollie’s behalf, with a hearing with athletic director David Benedict this week.
If UConn is forced to pay Ollie his full salary for the next three seasons, it would be hard to pay Hurley over $3 million as well. Also, Hurley has a $1.5 million buyout in his contract with URI.
So there are a lot of moving parts. Can UConn afford to go all-in and land Hurley now, then sort out the financial details later? The future of its men’s basketball program depends on the answer.
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