Sendek job uncertain ahead of Tuesday meeting

The future of Arizona State's basketball program is unclear as its head coach and athletics director are set to discuss the job Tuesday morning in Tempe.

Herb Sendek and Arizona State Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson are scheduled to meet Tuesday morning at 9:45 to discuss the future of the men's basketball program at the school, according to multiple sources familiar with the plan.

Though Sendek received a one-year extension from Anderson, which was ratified by the Arizona Board of Regents in December and pushed his contract term through June of 2017, after nine seasons in Tempe his situation is very much uncertain entering Tuesday's meeting.

In a radio interview with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM's Bickley and Marotta last Wednesday, Anderson said he would evaluate the totality of Sendek's tenure and the 2014-15 season, which ended with a record of 18-16 record on Sunday with a 76-70 overtime loss to Richmond in the second round of the National Invitational.

"Most importantly, you try to think of what's in the best interest going forward, because the past doesn't do us any good," Anderson told Bickley and Marotta. "If you're trying to be elite and best in class, then you have to look forward aggressively all the time about how do you continue to get better. So as part of that evaluation, I will look at all of the things that happened this season, and then make a determination of the best way forward."

Though nine seasons at ASU, Sendek has an overall record of 155-133 including 68-86 in Pac-12 games with two NCAA Tournament Appearances, 2008-09 and 2013-14.

This season the Sun Devils started 0-4 in Pac-12 play before finishing the regular season with wins in nine of 14 games for a .500 finish at 9-9 in Pac-12 play and a No. 5 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, four spots higher than they were predicted to finish in the preseason conference media poll.

But ASU lost in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament to No. 12 seed USC after leading by 14 points with nine minutes left in the game, a result Anderson called "painful for a lot of folks."

The ramifications of that loss, even after ASU rebounded with a win at defending NCAA Tournament champion Connecticut in the opening round of the NIT, are perhaps still being felt.

"We have heard from a lot of folks who are very disgruntled with where the program is," Anderson told Bickley and Marotta. "So at the end of the day, you've got to evaluate the program and do what's in the best interest of Sun Devil athletics."

Despite five 20-plus win seasons in his last eight years at ASU, Sendek has become deeply polarizing within the program's season ticket holders and fans.

Attendance numbers stuck in the bottom-half of the league, including eighth in 2014-15 with an average of 5,985 for home games. This, despite a much improved turn out among ASU students in the last two years and national recognition for the so-called "Curtain of Distraction."

But ASU's Academic Progress Rate number is at an all-time program high of 989, and the Sun Devils have a handful of committed and signed prospects in the 2015 and 2016 classes who are well regarded. They also return four starters next year and should be improved from a team that played its best basketball in February and March, a bad Pac-12 Tournament loss to USC and ugly showing at Utah notwithstanding.

Additionally, the Pac-12 as a league has looked increasingly good due to its showing in the NCAA Tournament this month, at 7-1 overall and three teams, Arizona, UCLA and Utah, reaching the Sweet 16.

Sendek is scheduled to make $1.3 million in 2015-16 if he remains at ASU, a $100,000 increase over this year. On July 1 of 2016 his salary would increase to $1.5 million. Sendek would also automatically receive an additional contract year if his team wins 20 games or plays in an NCAA Tournament game in any year of his remaining contract.

A source familiar with the Arizona Board of Regents decision in December said its Vice Chairman Jay Heiler, led the board to its decision to reject a guaranteed three year extension that Anderson had initially sought for Sendek.

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