Arizona State basketball coach Bobby Hurley will not make himself available for the vacancy at St. John’s, possibly opening the door for Iona coach Tim Cluess.
“I am thankful to President Crow and Ray Anderson for entrusting me to lead the basketball program at Arizona State,’’ Hurley said Thursday night in a statement posted to his verified Twitter account. “My family and I are proud to be Sun Devils and want to remain at Arizona State for a long time. We are in discussions to extend our agreement and I look forward to continuing to build our program for long-term success. I will have no further public comment on my contract status until our agreement is finalized. Thank you, Sun Devil Nation”
With Hurley out, the only other reported candidate to replace Chris Mullin — who resigned on Tuesday — is Cluess, a resident of Floral Park. A source said St. John’s had not yet asked Iona for permission to interview Cluess, 60, who has led the New Rochelle school to six appearances in the NCAA Tournament in his nine years as coach.
St. John’s did not respond to requests for comment.
Hurley, 47, was projected as the leading candidate in the search conducted by St. John’s athletic director Mike Cragg, a former administrator at Duke who has known Hurley since his playing days with the Blue Devils. Cragg all but mentioned Hurley when he identified his desire to find a coach who is an “experienced program- builder.’’ That described Hurley’s achievements at Buffalo and for the last four years in Arizona.
Facing yet another rebuild — St. John’s is losing Shamorie Ponds and Justin Simon to the NBA Draft and the potential of additional player defections — also may have influenced Hurley’s decision. A source in Arizona said, “Rebuilding Buffalo was hard. He had to do a rebuild here as well. Doing another one would be hard on a person . . . That would be three schools in seven years.’’
While it is not clear if Hurley was offered the job, St. John’s would have had to make a substantial financial commitment to lure him. Hurley’s contract, obtained by Newsday, called for a $2.5 million buyout if he left Arizona State. He made $2.1 million this season and is owed another $7.8 million over the next three years.