UB Athletics wants to make Hurley highest paid MAC coach, contract not finalized
UB Athletics is ready to make Bobby Hurley the highest paid men's basketball coach in the Mid-American Conference.
Hurley, who has been rumored to being courted by other programs such as DePaul and Arizona State, has been engaged in contract negotiations with Buffalo for the past three weeks, according to Deputy Director of Athletics Allen Greene. Hurley’s 2014 base salary was $255,770 and in 2013, his base salary was $250,000 but Hurley earned $336,669 according to the 2013-14 athletics budget.
Greene acknowledged the rumors circulating about Hurley’s new Buffalo contract, but said Hurley has yet to sign a finalized deal.
“I think it’s no surprise that he is a sought after candidate for other positions,” Greene said Wednesday. “He, in a very short time, has done something I say is pretty remarkable in terms of winning a conference championship and making the NCAA tournament in two short years.”
Ohio University men’s basketball coach Saul Phillips leads the MAC with a $550,000 base salary per season. Hurley is still interviewing for other positions and hasn’t accepted UB’s offer. Greene understands the interest other universities have in Hurley and is prepared to compensate Hurley.
“We feel like we’ve gotten to the point where we are making him the highest paid head coach in the conference and that’s something that he felt was important to him in terms of his accomplishments and we don’t disagree,” Greene said. “So that’s kind of where we stand now.”
Greene said the specifics of the contract are not complete, but if Hurley accepts
Buffalo’s offer, donors will pay the difference necessary to make Hurley the highest paid coach in the conference.
“It’s a good sign that people are essentially putting their money where their mouths are and being supportive financially to help us put the best package together we can to keep him,” Greene said.
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.
Senior forward Will Regan said he hopes Hurley will return in Buffalo but also respects and understands Hurley has to do what’s best for him.
“I have no idea what he’s going to decide,” Regan said. “I know that he’ s done a good job coaching here and he’s going to do what fits his goals.”
Regan described Hurley as a “passionate” coach with the ability to bring the most out of his players during games and practices. Regan said Hurley’s passion “forces you to garner your inner self – really put everything on the line.”
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.
Greene called Hurley one of the best coaches in the MAC and said he deserves to be rewarded as one.
“We are excited about his commitment to us,” Greene said. “Certainly there are people trying to lure him away. Certainly I don’t have a crystal ball, I can’t tell what’s going to happen, but I do know that we’ve worked very, very hard to provide him and his staff and our players the things that they’ve felt are necessary to win.”
Greene said Buffalo has put more money in its basketball program this season than in previous years. Last year, Buffalo spent $1,871,085 on men’s basketball – the fifth most of 12 MAC schools. Greene did not give a specific number on this season’s basketball expenses and the budget is not yet available.
Greene said the details of Hurley’s contract negotiations – including base salary, benefits and specific amount paid by donors – would be “ironed out and will be ironed out here in the short term.”
Regan called the donor’s rally to help raise Hurley’s contract “remarkable” and said he thinks they would do the same if the football team were nationally ranked or playing in large bowl games. In the end, Regan said the players and community have to put faith in the administration.
Buffalo football has never been nationally ranked but has two bowl appearances. Former football coach Turner Gill left Buffalo for the same position at Kansas University after the 2009 football season. Buffalo football won its first MAC Championship in the 2008 season. Gill received a pay increase and contract extension in 2008 after he interviewed for the head coaching position at Auburn.
“I know everyone would like for him to come back,” Regan said about Hurley. “You just respect what happens and you put faith in the administration to do the best they can to keep him and if not, they’ll move on and do their best to replace him. It’s a business and there’s nothing you can do beside that.”
As of Thursday, Hurley and UB Athletics hadn’t signed a new contract and his future at UB is still unknown.
This article has been updated to included quotes from player Will Regan.
Owen O’Brien is the investigative sports reporter and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org