Dan Hurley Reveals Candid Reasons Why He Chose to Stay at UConn

The two-time national champion coach also said his contract extension with the Huskies was already agreed upon before the Lakers showed interest.
Hurley spoke about his decision to remain at UConn after reported interest from the Lakers.
Hurley spoke about his decision to remain at UConn after reported interest from the Lakers. / Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

In his first interview since declining the Los Angeles Lakers head coaching job to stay at UConn, Dan Hurley shut down speculation that the purported Lakers interest was merely a play for more money with the Huskies.

“One of the worst takes I’ve heard is, like, this was a leverage play by me to improve my situation at UConn,” Hurley said on the Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz. “I don’t need leverage here. We’ve won back-to-back national championships at this place.”

Hurley revealed he had already agreed to “the financial part” of a contract extension with the UConn Huskies weeks ago that would make him the highest-paid coach in men’s college basketball. The holdup on finalizing that extension was other commitments from the school, such as NIL and the assistant coach salary pool.

“This wasn’t some pressure tactic to make me the highest-paid college coach,” Hurley said. “That s--- was already done.”

Instead, Hurley revealed what made it a “gut-wrenching decision” whether to stay and chase a third straight national championship at UConn or move up to the pros, where he’d get the chance to coach a storied franchise and one of the best players in NBA history in LeBron James. Hurley said it would have been a “thrill” to coach James and that the two did communicate during the Lakers’ pursuit.

In the end, Hurley said he just couldn’t bear the thought of leaving UConn and the “beautiful connection” he has with his team.

“There’s real true emotion and feelings for each other here because of how our program functions,” Hurley said. “In the end, it’s probably a deciding factor, [my] desire to continue to be a part of that and not knowing [if] that’s something you can be a part of in the professional ranks.”

Hurley also spoke about his wife Andrea’s involvement in the decision, which has been speculated about at length. He said Andrea was “violently angry and emotional” at the concept of leaving initially.

“She got emotional, like … ‘Our life is so great, it’s perfect. Our lives couldn’t be better and now you’re bringing this s---?’” Hurley said.

However, Andrea did warm up to the concept of moving to Los Angeles after meeting with Lakers brass in L.A. late Friday.

“She saw the vision of it, she was into it,” Hurley said.

The challenges created by NIL and the transfer portal have been a frequent complaint among college coaches and have been regularly cited as reasons to flee the college game for the pros. But Hurley said coaching in college is “incredible” and doesn’t sound like he’s in a rush to leave the game anytime soon.

“A lot of people talk s--- about how bad college basketball is with NIL and the transfer portal, and I think a lot of that is excuses and it’s whiny,” Hurley said. “It’s a privilege to coach at this level, make the amount of money we make, and coach 18-, 19-, 20-year-olds. You can still impact lives and coach at a high level. Being a college coach is incredible.”


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Kevin Sweeney

KEVIN SWEENEY

Kevin Sweeney is a staff writer at Sports Illustrated covering college basketball and the NBA draft. He joined the SI staff in July 2021 and also serves host and analyst for The Field of 68. Sweeney is a Naismith Trophy voter and ia member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. He is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.