Self-imposed penalties could trigger Hurley contract extension

UConn athletic director David Benedict talks to the media during a news conference prior to Saturday's men's basketball game against Tulane at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
UConn athletic director David Benedict talks to the media during a news conference prior to Saturday's men's basketball game against Tulane at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Storrs — UConn's recommended self-imposed penalties involving NCAA violations in the men's basketball program could trigger a year's extension to coach Dan Hurley's contract.

Whether that happens is Hurley's decision, according to UConn athletic director David Benedict.

"That's certainly something that we'll discuss," Benedict said in his Gampel Pavilion office before Saturday's game against Tulane. "That was contemplated early on in this process with inevitability. It's something that Dan actually would want to trigger. It's up to him. And those are conversations that we're having."

Hurley agreed to a six-year deal last March. The NCAA violations occurred with Kevin Ollie in charge, resulting in UConn terminating Ollie's contract.

Hurley's contract includes language stating he will have the right to extend the term of his employment "by up to one additional year in the event the UConn men's basketball program receives from the NCAA a penalty resulting in a reduction of scholarships or a material limitation on recruiting or player visits that is based on activities or conduct that occurred to the effective date of your employment."

On Friday, UConn announced its response to the NCAA's notice of allegations, detailing a list of self-imposed penalties that includes reduction of a scholarship, recruiting restrictions and $5,000 fine to be paid to the NCAA.

When Hurley was asked Saturday if he planned to extend his deal, he said that he hasn't spoken to his agent about it.

"I don't even know what he's doing," Hurley said of his agent. "I don't care about my contract. I coached high school and I was driving a cheese bus not too long ago, so my contract doesn't mean anything to me. But I do have one, though."

Before being hired at UConn, Hurley knew about the NCAA violations and potential sanctions, so Friday's announcement didn't come as a surprise.

"It's something that we've been planning for a long time in terms of how we're going to approach the late signing period and the 2020 class that way," Hurley said. It's about, hopefully, moving on.

" Obviously, our future is bright. ... It's been a tough week. There's a lot swirling around and there's been a lot swirling around. Eventually, it will be behind us. And UConn will be back to doing what UConn does. It's going to take a little bit of time to get there."

UConn's next step is to meet with the NCAA's Committee on Infractions. The date for the meeting has yet to be determined.

"Probably sometime in the next two or three months," Benedict said. "Could be longer. It requires everyone to be able to get on the same page and schedule that."

It's difficult to say whether NCAA will agree with UConn's self-imposed penalties. The NCAA has the right to add additional punishment.

"This is just our attempt to establish penalties that we believe are consistent with the violations," Benedict. "That's something that the Committee on Infractions will review. They have the right to potentially make a different decision."

Benedict also addressed the athletic department's $40.4 million deficit.

With reduced revenues in several areas, UConn is considering different options to try to close that deficit gap.

When asked about potentially dropping some sports, Benedict responded: "That's a real tough decision. There's a lot of athletic departments over the past few years that have had to do that. It's probably one of the most difficult things you can do as an athletic director and as an athletic department.

"We're going to look at all opportunities to try to deal with this prior to that. Sometimes there's inevitabilities. Certainly, one thing that has been discussed that could have a major impact on our financial situation is our conference media rights. That's something over the last month there's been some discussion out there in the media. I do believe that's going to be a source of opportunity to help us really make a dent in that number."

g.keefe@theday.com


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