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Bobby Hurley says "his heart is still in Buffalo"

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Men’s basketball coach Bobby Hurley told ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd that his “heart is still in Buffalo” on “The Herd,” Tuesday morning.

Hurley, who hasn’t addressed the media since rumors emerged last week about interest from programs such as DePaul, Arizona State and St. John’s, gave Bulls fans some confidence in his conversation with Cowherd. UB Athletics has not commented on Hurley’s ESPN Radio statements.

UB Athletics had a contract in place to make Hurley the highest paid basketball coach in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Wednesday March 25. Hurley didn’t sign the offer immediately and decided to explore other coaching options. Ohio’s Saul Phillips currently leads the MAC with a $550,000 base salary.

“My heart is here in Buffalo with this group of kids I’m coaching and that’s what I plan on doing moving forward,” Hurley told Cowherd Tuesday morning.

Hurley signed a contract extension with Buffalo in September through the 2018-19 season. The details of that contract was unknown, but Hurley earned a base salary of $250,000 in his original contract – signed March 26, 2013 – and received $50,000 in additional fees. He was also awarded bonuses based on championships, an Academic Performance Rate in the top 10 percent of the conference or nation and 25 percent of all ticket sales after the school’s sold more than $300,000 worth of tickets.

When Hurley was asked “Are you ready to say that you will certainly be the head coach of the Buffalo Bulls next season?” by Maggie Gray on “SI Now Live,” Hurley said “I feel that I will be and there’s nothing really of anything substantial that has my interest at this point.”

Texas and Tennessee University were two other high-profile schools with vacant head coaching positions but it’s unclear if the schools were interested in pursuing Hurley as a head coach. ESPN reported Tuesday morning that Tennessee hired former Texas coach Rick Barnes as head coach.

As of Tuesday evening, UB Athletics didn’t release an official statement about Hurley and Buffalo signing a new contract for the upcoming season, however, it is expected Hurley will take the pay raise that will make him the highest paid coach in the conference.

Buffalo donors rallied to raise money during the final two weeks of the season to raise Hurley’s salary. UB Athletics hasn’t announced how much of Hurley’s raise will come from donor money and how much will come from the Athletic Department.

Hurley’s base salary was $255,770 last season. Hurley’s base salary was $250,000 in his first year as head coach, but he earned $336,667 after including bonuses and perks, according to the 2013-14 athletics budget.

Hurley told Gray on Tuesday that he was “going into the office today” and preparing for the 2014-15 season.

“The players on my team realize the journey we were on and we are going to set our sights on doing it again next season,” Hurley told Gray.

Deputy Director of Athletics Allen Greene toldThe Spectruma week ago UB Athletics looks to hire coaches that will gain the attention of other programs.

“We want that,” Greene said about their coaches gaining national interest. “If someone else isn’t attracted to the coaches we hire, then we aren’t hiring the right coaches. If you hire good people, the country is going to notice.”

Hurley called the interest from other schools “a testament to what our kids accomplished.” He specifically spoke with Cowherd about the emergence of players like junior forward Justin Moss, sophomore guard Shannon Evans and freshman guard Lamonte Bearden last season.

“These guys really delivered and put Buffalo on the map – for the first time in school history playing in the NCAA Tournament and that’s why this stuff is going on,” Hurley said.

Hurley led Buffalo to a 23-10 record this season and its first MAC Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. Hurley is the fastest men’s basketball coach to 40 wins in school history and has a 42-20 record in two seasons at UB.

Hurley was named one of 16 finalists for the Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year award, given to the nation’s best Mid-Major coach.

This story has been corrected to clarify that Hurley still hasn't signed a new deal with Buffalo

Owen O’Brien is the investigative sports reporter and can be reached at owen.obrien@ubspectrum.com


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