ATLANTA -- The University of Rhode Island and basketball coach Dan Hurley are close to an agreement on a contract extension, eliminating the possibility he'll return to his native New Jersey to fill the recent Rutgers vacancy.
Details have yet to be finalized, but the new contract would include an increased financial commitment by URI to compete at the highest levels in the Atlantic-10. Improvements within the program, such as better travel and training table, would be a part of these changes.
Hurley's contract will be extended two additional years through the 2019-20 season. The deal could be finalized early next week.
Rhode Island finished 8-21 in Hurley's first year at URI and lost five straight games to close the season. However Hurley's extension comes after he was able to maximize a depleted roster and amass a strong incoming class that could usher in significant improvement for URI in his second year.
Leading this strong core of players is rising senior Xavier Munford (17.4 ppg). Rhode Island's future will also rest with a trio of talented transfers as Gilvydas Biruta (Rutgers), DeShon Minnis (Texas Tech) and Jarelle Reischel (Rice) will all play key roles next season. Redshirt freshman Ifeanyi Onyekaba, a 6-foot-8 power forward, will also see minutes after sitting out last year.
Rhode Island has also recruited well under Hurley. Incoming point guard E.C. Matthews is considered the highest rated recruit in the A-10, while power forward Hassan Martin from Staten Island is considered a top 150 recruit.
Hurley is just three seasons removed from coaching high school at St. Benedict's Prep in New Jersey. (His father, Bob Hurley, is a Hall of Fame high school coach at St. Anthony's.) Two of his assistants -- his brother Bobby Hurley (Buffalo) and Bashir Mason (Wagner) -- have gone on to become Division I head coaches as well.
Prior to coaching at Rhode Island, Hurley spent two years at Wagner, where he saw significant success in his second season there. He helped lead the Seahawks to 25 wins after concluding his first year with just 13. That included a stunning upset at No. 15 Pittsburgh. Hurley did not advance past the semifinals of the NEC tournament there, however.
As for Rutgers -- which lost athletic director Tim Pernetti and coach Mike Rice in the wake of its recent abuse scandal -- the loss of Hurley as a candidate is significant. One name Rutgers could look toward is Ben Howland, as CBSSports.com reported on Saturday that Howland is "intrigued" by the Rutgers opening. Other names mentioned for the Rutgers job include Temple's Fran Dunphy, La Salle Coach Dr. John Giannini, Lawrence Frank and Eddie Jordan.