May 30, 2024
Arizona State's arena is 50 years old, and its recruiting budget is the lowest in the Pac-12. Is it any wonder that Bobby Hurley's program is mediocre?

Arizona State president Michael Crow has received a torrent of criticism from fans and media members over his mismanagement of the Sun Devils athletic department.

But the salvo of all salvos came from a member of the university’s extended family.

During a news conference two weeks ago, Connecticut coach Danny Hurley took a moment away from his march to the national championship to address ASU’s basketball program under the leadership of his older brother, Bobby.

“You could see why he loves it here — you could see why he values his job here,’’ Danny Hurley said of Bobby prior to the Final Four in Glendale.

“When he’s in position to have all the resources that a lot of us at this Final Four have, when he has that at his full disposal, he’ll be up on this dais, and someday, I’ll be supporting him.”

The comment couldn’t be taken as anything but a direct shot at ASU’s administration for the state of affairs a few miles away in Tempe.

The Sun Devils haven’t reached the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in 29 years and haven’t won a first-round game in 15.

Bobby Hurley’s record in conference play the past four years is 36-41.

Fans are increasingly disenchanted.

The roster is annually in flux.

But is Danny Hurley correct? Do the Sun Devils have fewer resources than their peers?

Or does responsibility for the lackluster performance fall, largely if not entirely, on the head coach?

Evidence uncovered by the Hotline seemingly favors the Hurleys:

— The sorry state of Desert Financial Arena is atop the list of grievances against Crow, who has remade many facets of ASU’s campus but inexplicably left the 50-year-old arena untouched.

Yes, many of Bobby Hurley’s coaching peers compete in new or remodeled arenas. But the best example of Crow’s disregard for Desert Financial Arena can be found on campus.

The facility opened in the same year (1974) as Packard Stadium, the Sun Devils’ baseball venue. While the former remains in regular use by numerous ASU sports — the basketball teams share it with volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling — the latter was permanently closed a decade ago.

The entirety of Hurley’s nine-year tenure in Tempe has unfolded since ASU shut down Packard for good.

“Packard Stadium has seen many years of use and needs upwards of $25 million in repairs,” Crow said in 2013, as the school announced that baseball would move to Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

But the evidence favoring the Hurleys extends far beyond ASU’s decrepit arena.

— Using revenue and expense reports submitted to the NCAA, the Hotline examined athletic department budgets for every public school in the Pac-12 for the 2023 fiscal year and found the following:

1. ASU’s budget for men’s basketball was $9.1 million, or 13 percent below the conference average ($10.5 million).

Only three schools spent less on their programs: Colorado, Oregon State and Washington State. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils’ in-state rival, Arizona, poured $15.9 million into its basketball program.

2. The situation is even worse when the full scope of each school’s athletic department is taken into account.

Hurley’s budget accounted for just 6.4 percent of the Sun Devils’ total operating expenses of $141.7 million.

That allocation of dollars was the second-lowest in the conference to Colorado (six percent). Both Washington State and Oregon State devoted larger shares of their budgets to men’s basketball.

3. But that’s not all. We saved the worst for last.

Hurley’s recruiting budget for the 2022-23 academic year was a paltry $118,900, according to the expense report filed to the NCAA.

That’s not just last in the Pac-12. It’s last by an inconceivable amount.

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The next-lowest total belonged to UCLA, which spent $174,000 on recruiting.

On average, Pac-12 public universities devoted $210,900 to men’s basketball recruiting — almost double the amount at Hurley’s disposal.

Why doesn’t ASU offer Hurley’s program more financial support?

Why doesn’t it renovate that eyesore of an arena?

What does Crow think of the criticism from Danny Hurley and others?

The Hotline reached out to ASU for comment but was informed by a senior communications official that Crow would not be offering a response.

No matter. We can provide a morsel of insight.

In an email to the Hotline in late January that outlined his strategy for hiring a permanent athletic director — the position is still vacant, by the way — Crow addressed the state of ASU athletics and mentioned the investment in capital projects.

“We have invested more than $500 million in our athletic facilities recently,” he wrote.

That says it all, folks.

Half a billion dollars plowed into athletic facilities, but not a dime spent on the arena.

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*** Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

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