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UConn’s Dan Hurley clarifies decision to reject Lakers’ coaching job: ‘I already had the leverage’

UConn men’s basketball head coach Dan Hurley turned down a lucrative six-year contract offer from the Los Angeles Lakers.

Hurley broke his silence Thursday and made it clear he did not reject the Lakers’ offer to gain leverage with his current employer. 

The two-time national championship-winning coach said he had already agreed to the terms of a new deal with UConn before he declined the Lakers’ offer.

“One of the worst takes I’ve heard is that this is a leverage play by me to improve my situation at UConn,” the Huskies coach said during a recent appearance on “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz.” 

“I don’t need leverage here. We’ve won back-to-back national championships at this place. This was never a leverage situation for me.

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“I’ve had a contract in place here for a couple of weeks. And the final part, in terms of salary, has been done for a while. There are some other parts, like NIL and staff salary and some different things, that I want adjusted and I’m not comfortable with. But the sense of the idea that this was some conspiracy to get me a sweeter deal at UConn is just, it’s lazy.”

Dan Hurley coaches

UConn has yet to announce a new deal for Hurley. He coached last season on a six-year, $32.1 million deal. Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self is the highest-paid college coach.

Hurley did travel to Los Angeles to meet with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and team owner Jeanie Buss. While Hurley did not meet with LeBron James, he did engage in a text exchange with the four-time NBA champion.

“We had some text messages … an incredible message from [James] over the course of the weekend. Just talking about basketball and some different things and letting me know that if he was there in LA that I would have his support,” Hurley told Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd during Thursday’s edition of “The Herd.”

Hurley said it was not easy deciding between coaching in Los Angeles and staying put in Connecticut to pursue a third straight national championship.

“It was a gut-wrenching decision for me,” he said. “Sunday night, going into Monday, where I kind of had a deadline in my mind, I was torn, and I did not know really what I was going to do until I went to bed.”

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Hurley did admit the Lakers would have had to make him an offer he could not have refused for him to leave UConn.

“To leave, there probably is [a number],” he said. “To leave a place at any moment in your life, to say that it’s not a motivating factor … the finances to leave a place is definitely a thing. To stay at a place, I don’t think it is ever going to be a thing. To stay somewhere like UConn, it would never have been a financial thing.”

Hurley reiterated that he was not entertaining the Lakers as some sort of “pressure tactic” and that he was already due to become the highest-paid college basketball coach.

“This wasn’t like some pressure tactic to make me the highest-paid college coach. That was already done. But to leave a place that you feel the way we do and the family connection with my wife, my sons, my mother-in-law, my father. … I know how much it means to my dad to go to the Big East tournament and come to 10 UConn games a year at home, sitting courtside when I’m coaching against Rick Pitino. To leave all of that behind, there probably is a number.”

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