College Basketball
Why Dan Hurley chose to stay at UConn, and what's next for Huskies head coach
College Basketball

Why Dan Hurley chose to stay at UConn, and what's next for Huskies head coach

Updated Jun. 10, 2024 10:01 p.m. ET

Dan Hurley became the new face of men's college basketball when he and his UConn Huskies wrapped up a second consecutive national title this past April, catapulting the head coach into company with Mike Krzyzewski and Billy Donovan as the only men's college coaches to win back-to-back titles in the last 40 years. Hurley has images of John Wooden around his office, and looks to the basketball legend as an inspiration, wanting to join him as the only other men's college hoops coach to win three consecutive national titles.

The drive for history, his Northeast family roots, and a loyalty to Alex Karaban — who tested the NBA Draft waters — along with players he brought in such as five-star freshman Liam McNeeley and transfers Aidan Mahaney and Tarris Reed, all propelled Hurley to staying at UConn for what will be his seventh season. 

Why did Dan Hurley turn down the Lakers?

In turning down the Lakers, Hurley passed on a chance to go to the NBA after being offered a reported six-year, $70 million contract. Sure, he has expressed a desire to go to the NBA, and the Los Angeles brand speaks for itself, but the Lakers' organization has more questions than answers right now, and the biggest one was an unknown: How much control would Hurley have? With LeBron James still part of the equation, history would tell us the answer to that, at least to start. At UConn, that is not a question, and beyond the emotions and the feel-good nature of this story, think about this: Hurley has Connecticut in the palm of his hand.


Sources confirmed to FOX Sports that UConn has mapped out an offer of roughly $50 million for six years, coming in at over $8 million per year. But after Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said Monday that "we'll make sure he's the top paid college coach," it will be time for the state and the school to back up his words. 

This past November, two-time national champion Bill Self and Kansas agreed to an amended contract worth $53 million over five years with a check of more than $13 million issued to the Naismith Hall of Famer for the 2023-24 season. 

So, Hurley is on track to receive a nice payday, and if the governor's words have merit, we'll see that figure on the rise and finalized at some point soon.

As for Hurley's visit to Los Angeles, the trip to meet with the Lakers' brass left the Huskies' head coach in deep thought as he was impressed with what the organization presented to him, a source confirmed to FOX Sports.

"This was not some flight to Los Angeles just to find some sort of leverage play or to go on a weekend vacation," a source said. "He entertained the Lakers offer like any college coach should, fully examining it and giving thought to it." 

Hurley flew back from Los Angeles on Saturday following the Friday meetings with Jeanie Buss and Rob Pelinka, making the trek back East and heading to New York City to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden, where he was able to unplug for a couple of hours in Manhattan with his wife Andrea and assistant Luke Murray. 

But at the end of the day, Hurley going to see Joel at MSG — donning a "New York, New York" shirt — is exactly why he's going to continue to call the Northeast home. In a span of 816 days, Hurley has gone from losing to New Mexico State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to winning the last 12 March Madness games by a combined 260 points.

Hurley, who previously dealt with a mental health battle during his time as an undergrad at Seton Hall, has his family and support system with him in the Northeast. His dad, Bob Sr., is a fixture at UConn games. He met his wife, Andrea, during his college days. His son Dan Jr. graduated from Seton Hall and has a government job in New Jersey. His other son, Andrew, just graduated from UConn.

You don't mess with happy.

While the Lakers are a brand as prominent as any in professional sports, the organization has had seven coaches in the last 15 seasons, and nobody since Phil Jackson has lasted more than three years.

In addition to this being a celebratory day for UConn's men's basketball program, Hurley's return to Storrs is also a mammoth win for college basketball. For a sport that has recently said goodbye to Jay Wright, Krzyzewski and Roy Williams on the sidelines, college hoops has lacked a lead personality that can drive the bus for the sport into the future amid all the doomsday talk and negativity surrounding the game.

This could have been a massive blow to the sport, and you would have seen the narrative heat up that college basketball continues to hurt. Instead, Hurley returning is a boon for college hoops and the Big East. Hurley is the type of guy who has to be at a place where basketball is the priority, and he has that at UConn, playing in a league that is driven by the sport and has accounted for four of the last eight national championships.

Hurley's Huskies will continue to land on big broadcast TV for almost, if not every, weekend during conference play next season. He can be a media darling, playing a variety of games at Madison Square Garden, including one against Gonzaga on Dec. 14. And finally, he is at a school where he has undivided, total control.

As Hurley heads to Orlando for the NBPA Top 100 camp this week, he now gets to tell recruits that he turned down Kentucky and the Lakers in the same offseason. That is a massive recruiting boon for a place that's had no issues winning as of late, and will now have a pair of top-tier draft prospects, Donovan Clingan and Stephon Castle, set to be selected in the top 10 of the NBA Draft in Brooklyn later this month.

With a top-five roster in place and all of this momentum, Hurley's decision also further cements Connecticut's spot as a definitive blue blood. If there's a point higher than cloud nine, UConn has reached it with Hurley saying no to one of the defining organizations in sports and saying yes to setting aim at history with the Huskies.

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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