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With Dan Hurley picking UConn over Lakers, college basketball avoids June madness

Nakos updated headshotby:Pete Nakos06/10/24


Dan Hurley Proves There Is A Place For Touch Coaching In The Age Of Nil | 04.09.24

Exactly 20 years after the Los Angeles Lakers attempted to hire away Mike Krzyzewski from Duke and college basketball, UConn coach Dan Hurley faced the same decision.

Back in 2004, facing a record-breaking contract, Krzyzewski decided to stay put in Durham. He went on to win two more national championships in his Hall of Fame career. On Monday afternoon, Hurley, who has won back-to-back national titles, decided.

UConn head coach Dan Hurley is staying in Storrs, Connecticut. He will pursue a third consecutive national championship, looking to become just the second head coach to accomplish the feat. Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden won nine national championships from 1964 to 1973.

According to ESPN’s NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, the offer from Los Angeles was for a six-year, $70-million deal. Hurley traveled to Los Angeles on Thursday night, met with the Lakers on Friday and returned to the East Coast on Saturday morning.

Dan Hurley’s departure would have created chaos

Hurley’s decision to stay in college basketball for another season staves off a seismic blow to the sport. If he had left for the NBA, UConn would be left scrambling to field a team for the 2024-25 season. The 30-day transfer portal window would have opened up for the Huskies, and trying to find a head coach in the middle of June would be nearly impossible.

UConn lost four starters from the 2023 roster to the NBA, with Alex Karaban opting to withdraw and return to college basketball for a final season. The Huskies used the portal to help rebuild, landing former Michigan center Tarris Reed and former Saint Mary’s guard Aidan Mahaney, who averaged 13.9 points per game.

Safe to say, Hurley’s departure would have set off a feeding frenzy on the UConn roster. There would have been serious concerns about the depth of the roster. Instead, the Jersey City native, the son of Hall of Fame high school coach Bob Hurley Sr., is sticking with the Huskies.

The decision is a W for college sports

It’s a clear win for college sports, as a handful of head coaches – Chip Kelly, Jay Wright and Jeff Hafley – have left their posts. Critics have used it as evidence of a broken NCAA enterprise.

Dan Hurley staying is a major win for college basketball, but times have certainly changed since the 2000s when Coach K stayed at Duke The transfer portal and NIL are daily challenges. Hurley has been outspoken against college basketball’s free agency, explaining this spring how it’s “led to even more chaos.”

“I just don’t think it’s healthy for somebody to be able to change schools like underwear,” he said during UConn’s march to a second consecutive title. As of Monday afternoon, 2,129 Division I athletes have entered the portal in the 2023-24 academic year.

Booster-driven NIL collectives are imperative to retaining and attracting talent in the sport. Budgets range from $1 to $4 million. Deals pushing half a million to seven figures are much more frequent in basketball, unlike football.

Only more change is coming, too, with the NCAA now allowing all transfers, including multi-time, to play immediately as long as they meet specific academic requirements. UConn could be operating at a disadvantage with revenue sharing, with schools expected to spend $20-22 million in capped sharing annually.

“We would never spend up to the cap,” Huskies athletic director Dave Benedict said at a recent UConn Coaches Road Show event.

Dan Hurley is staying close to home. The 51-year-old UConn head coach got his start at Wagner and Rhode Island. Could an East Coast NBA job convince him to make the jump to the NBA? Possibly.

But staying in Storrs delivers a decisive win for college basketball.