UB Athletics able to retain donations originally made for Bobby Hurley contract extension

$250,000 raised being used for other areas of program instead


UB donors rallied with checkbooks last spring to keep men’s basketball head coach Bobby Hurley in Buffalo with a pay raise. It wasn’t enough though  – Hurley left for Arizona State and a contract that will pay him $1.2 million plus incentives in his first year.

So what happened to the money raised?

The donors honored their commitments and money donated for a Hurley contract extension went to other areas of UB Athletics, according to Buffalo Athletic Director Danny White. White said about $250,000 was secured from private support to keep Hurley at UB. No donors backed out of their commitments and that money is now being used to help the program in other ways.

“There were commitments in place,” White said. “We’ll look to do that when appropriate to try to retain a coach.”

The donors’ push to raise Hurley’s salary was in the hopes of preventing a bigger program from coming in and persuading him to leave with a large contract offer. That push started when Buffalo began its late season success and NCAA Tournament run – the first in program history.

Deputy Director of Athletics Allen Greene told The Spectrum in March that if Hurley accepted Buffalo’s contract extension, donors would pay for the difference to make Hurley the highest paid coach in the Mid-American Conference.

Hurley’s base salary was $255,770 last season. Ohio’s Saul Phillips was the highest paid coach in the MAC last season with a base salary of $550,000, so the donations would have gotten Hurley’s salary close to the top of the conference’s coaches, at least for one season.

Hurley made $336,669 with incentives in 2013, according to the 2013-14 UB Athletics budget, and likely made well over that last season with Buffalo’s MAC Championship and NCAA Tournament appearance.

Hurley’s Arizona State contract will pay him $1.2 million this season and he can earn up to $770,000 in additional bonuses, according to AZCentral, an Arizona-based news site. Arizona State is a member of the Pac-12 Conference, which is considered a Power 5 conference, while the MAC is only considered a Mid-Major conference.

“At the end of the day it’s very difficult to retain a coach at our level when there’s a Power 5 school,” White said. “The resources are just so different. We don’t ever expect to win that battle. The battle I do expect to win is an Atlantic 10 [Conference] school or a school that pays more, but just not light-years more. That’s where donor support can be helpful.”

White said the gap between what Buffalo could have offered Hurley and what Arizona State could is not something he would ever ask UB’s donors to make up.

Hurley’s former assistant, Nate Oats, was named as his replacement. Oats has brought in Jim Whitesell, a former St. John's assistant, and Donyell Marshall, a former NBA player, as assistants. Julius Hodge, former ACC Player of the Year and first round NBA draft pick, as been named director of player development.

Tom Dinki is the editor in chief and can be reached at tom.dinki@ubspectrum.com