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    Tuesday, June 18, 2024

    Hurley turns down the Lakers, remains with the UConn basketball program

    UConn head coach Dan Hurley calls towards his players during the first half of an Elite Eight game against Illinois in the NCAA tournament on March 30 in Boston. Hurley announced Monday he will stay at UConn, despite receiving a lucrative offer to coach the the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers. (Steven Senne/AP File Photo)
    UConn head coach Dan Hurley watches during the first half of the NCAA college basketball game against Alabama at the Final Four, Saturday, April 6, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
    UConn head coach Dan Hurley speaks to the media during a news conference ahead of a Final Four college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Thursday, April 4, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. UConn plays Alabama on Saturday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

    Dan Hurley is staying in Storrs.

    He delivered the good news to his UConn basketball team on Monday afternoon at the Werth Center practice facility. He will remain the men’s basketball coach after reportedly turning down a six-year, $70 million deal to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.

    Hurley’s decision ends a nerve-racking few days for the program and its fans.

    After ESPN reported on Thursday that Los Angeles had targeted Hurley to fill its coaching vacancy, he traveled to the West Coast to meet with Laker owner Jeanie Buss and vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka on Friday.

    Hurley, 51, returned to Connecticut on Saturday and spent the rest of the weekend mulling over his decision before electing to remain in Storrs. He met with his team on Monday before running practice.

    Now it’s back to the daily grind for Hurley, who’s preparing for his seventh season in Storrs.

    “I am humbled by this entire experience,” Hurley said in a released statement. “At the end of the day, I am extremely proud of the championship culture we have built at Connecticut. We met as a team before today’s workout and our focus right now is on getting better this summer and connecting as a team as we continue to pursue championships.”

    The Huskies will be attempting to become the first team to win three straight national championships since UCLA accomplished the feat in the 1970s. They’ll likely be ranked in the top five entering the season.

    In the last two seasons, UConn has dominated college basketball, going 68-11 overall and winning all 12 NCAA tournament games by double digits on the way to back-to-back national titles.

    Hurley elevated his status in the coaching world.

    In April, Kentucky showed some interest in Hurley. At the time, Hurley said he couldn’t see coaching anywhere else in college. But he openly talked about his desire to someday land an NBA job.

    Los Angeles’ pursuit of Hurley quickly became a national story and ignited a social media frenzy. Hurley kept an open mind during the interview process and told ESPN that the Lakers made a compelling case.

    In the end, Hurley’s strong Northeast roots likely factored into his decision. Dan and his wife Andrea are New Jersey natives and their families reside there. Their two sons, Andrew and Danny, also live in the region.

    Hurley also is deeply invested in the UConn basketball program and has forged tight bonds with his players.

    Bottom line, he’s happy.

    Hurley will be rewarded for his success in the near future. UConn is working on a lucrative new contract for Hurley.

    In June 2023, Hurley signed a six year, $32.1 million contract through the 2028-29 season.

    Hurley and athletic director David Benedict will be meeting with the media on Thursday in Storrs.

    “We are thrilled that Dan Hurley has made the decision to stay at UConn and continue building upon our championship tradition,” Benedict said. “He has helped return our men’s basketball program back to the pinnacle of the sport, including back-to-back NCAA championships, and we’re grateful for his loyalty to UConn.

    “We look forward to Dan’s continued leadership on and off the court at UConn. He will continue to bring great pride to Husky fans everywhere as we work toward a three-peat.”

    g.keefe@theday.com

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