University of Rhode Island basketball coach Dan Hurley, who has resurrected the URI men’s program and taken the Rams to two consecutive NCAA tournaments, is leaving to coach at the University of Connecticut for a salary reported to be about $3 million a year.
Hurley, 45, heads to Storrs after six years spent rebuilding the basketball program at Kingston, where his teams played at the highest level of the Atlantic 10 Conference. His exciting brand of basketball filled the Ryan Center this season and attracted national attention.
Hurley even won the Ocean State’s annual bragging rights game, knocking off Providence College, the Big East team that is the Rams biggest local rival. He was reportedly paid about $1 million annually at URI.
The University of Pittsburgh and UCONN were two schools that were after Hurley. Both Pitt and UCONN offered substantially more than URI offered to keep Hurley, according to media reports.
Hurley’s decision comes as scant surprise. As Bill Reynolds of the Providence Journal, the dean of New England college basketball writers, opined this morning, the URI job has become a resume building post, a place where successful coaches get seasoning before moving on to the big time.
UCONN and URI were once rivals in the old Yankee Conference, back in the days when college hoops in the region was played out in sweaty gyms on cold winter evenings. But that’s a misty memory in an era when college basketball churns out millions of dollars in television rights and the NCAA’s annual March tournament is the measuring stick by which every Division I program is evaluated.
“Take the UCONN job, once a big rival of URI’s, but that was long ago and far away,” wrote Reynolds. “Now the Huskies run with the big dogs, complete with four national championship banners, complete with a lot of money to dangle in front of a new coach.”
Hurley is now in a line of coaches who did well at URI, only to move on to greener hoop pastures and bigger salaries. They include Al Skinner, Tommy Penders and Jim Harrick.
As is the case with all young coaches, Hurley wants the chance to go to the Final Four and perhaps win a national crown. That isn’t likely to happen in Kingston.
Hurley is from Jersey City, N.J. and basketball royalty. He’s the son of Bob Hurley, an icon in New Jersey coaching circles who coached a parochial high school in Jersey City to 28 state championships and in enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame. His brother Bobby Hurley, was a star point guard at Duke University, had a career in the NBA and is the current coach at Arizona State University.
Dan Hurley played college ball at Seton Hall of the Big East, where he was a point guard. He began his coaching career with his father as an assistant, then moved on to St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, where he coached until 2010. From 2010 to 2012, Hurley was head coach at Wagner, where he stayed until 2012, when he was hired by Rhode Island. He carved a 112-87 record in Kingston, where he was credited with rebuilding the program, taking the team to the NCAA Tournament in 2017 and 2018.
Hurley is known as being close to Jim Calhoun, who left Northeastern to take the UCONN job and took the team to three national championships. At Seton Hall, he played for George Blaney, who later became Calhoun’s top assistant at Storrs.
ESPN reported that Hurley was offered $2 million a year to stay in Kingston and $3.6 million annually to take the Pitt job.
The Projo’s Bill Koch says that three likely candidates to take the job Hurley vacated are David Cox, URI’s current associate head coach, Ned Oats, 43, coach at Buffalo, where he took the team to a second NCAA tournament slot in three seasons and John Becker, of the University of Vermont. Becker, 49, has lost just one conference game in the past two years in America East, a league nobody will mistake for the Big East or the A-10.
URI has announced a news conference to discuss Hurley’s departure at 2 p.m. at the Ryan Center on the Kingston campus.