Connecticut State Officials Push for Dan Hurley to Return to UConn

Dan Hurley is the “most successful coach, the hottest name in the game. He has the right to negotiate and will get his price.”Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY NETWORK

Top Connecticut state officials “worked behind the scenes” to ensure UConn basketball coach Dan Hurley stayed at the university while he “considered whether to join the Lakers,” according to Christopher Keating of the HARTFORD COURANT. Gov. Ned Lamont “texted back and forth with Hurley over the weekend” while the coach made his decision, and Lamont said publicly that UConn, the state and the players “all love Dan Hurley.” Lamont said Monday, “We're going to make sure he becomes the highest-paid college coach.” He added, “I don't think he's in it for the money… He's always wanted to do something in the pros, but wanting to win three in a row with UConn is pretty good, too.” House Speaker Matt Ritter, “arguably the most passionate UConn basketball fan in the legislature,” stressed to his fellow lawmakers the “importance of the state's flagship university and the enormous popularity of the men's and women's basketball teams.” Ritter: “I haven't spoken to a single Connecticut resident in the last 96 hours who hasn't said, 'Do whatever you have to do to keep the coach.' Everywhere they said, 'Whatever he needs. Whatever UConn needs.'” Keating noted that major investments are being made by the state “in the Gampel Pavilion on the Storrs campus and the XL Center in downtown Hartford.” Ritter said, “I know there are a lot of doubters and skeptics. It's going to happen. The XL Center is being renovated for over $115 to $120 million, and Gampel is also being renovated for $100 million. That's important” (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/10).

WHERE HOME IS: CJ Moore of THE ATHLETIC writes that there is “no better, more sustainable job in sports than a successful college basketball coach at a school where he has consistently won.” College basketball has “its problems to solve” and “more changes are likely coming and needed.” But someone in Hurley's position “has little to worry about.” If UConn is a top-tier team, then “it will always have the upper hand as long as it has a good coach.” And what Hurley “probably learned during this process” is that his “success and the fact that he is in demand elsewhere gives him even more power” (THE ATHLETE, 6/11). Jerry Carino of the ASBURY PARK PRESS noted that Hurley's decision to stay “gives him the authority to impart an important piece of wisdom to his players and, given his platform, to the sport of college basketball: It doesn't always have to be about the money.” Carino: “Life is not an auction where the highest bid is always the right one. There are intangibles and nuances and shades of gray. That's something the college sports world desperately needs to hear” (ASBURY PARK PRESS, 6/10).

RISING SHARE: In Hartford, Dom Amore wrote that Hurley is the “most successful coach, the hottest name in the game, he has the right to negotiate and he will get his price.” Amore: “He owes UConn nothing, owes the state nothing; he has delivered everything he promised when he came in 2018 and if he decided to pursue greater heights and more money with the LA Lakers, no one could rightly blame him.” Hurley could have left UConn “in good conscience in April or May, but not on June 10,” and “Dan Hurley without a good conscience is not Dan Hurley.” That is his “greatest strength as a college coach and greatest liability as a businessman” (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/10).

WIN-WIN SITUATION: Gary Parrish of wrote that he “would have understood anything Hurley would have done, because he had two big and lucrative opportunities to choose from.” Parrish noted that he “truly believes that no matter how well or poorly things went with the Lakers, Hurley would have always wondered if he was right to pass up the opportunity to become the first coach since John Wooden to win three consecutive national championships in men's Division I basketball.” The chance to “make real history at a place you love is hard to pass up.” It's “possible that Hurley will one day regret passing up that opportunity with the Lakers.” Parrish: “But I bet the more likely hypothetical source of future regret would have been to leave UConn now and under these circumstances” (, 6/10).

IN THE LIGHT: Dan Wetzel of YAHOO SPORTS noted that yesterday was a “phenomenal day for all of college basketball.” The sport has “recently been pushed into the second tier, trying to find its place and purpose amid a spinning transfer portal and names, images and likenesses.” There have been “positive aspects,” namely “a more level playing field at the top of the sport.” It is “changing” and “maybe that was enough to push a legend like Jay Wright out of Villanova when he was still in his prime.” But the sport has “always been a mess.” Hurley has “found a way to not only survive under the new rules, but to develop a plan for success.” Wetzel asked: “And if it's so awful, so exhausting, so annoying to be a college coach now, why doesn't he fly to Los Angeles?” (YAHOO SPORTS, 6/10).

Anna Harden

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