ASU President Michael Crow and athletic department officials at the school have consulted with former Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks Chairman and CEO Jerry Colangelo, currently the Managing Director and Chairman of USA Basketball, regarding its coaching search and that has to some degree shaped early stages of the school's process.
The nexus of ASU and Colangelo is primarily related to the parties' mutual desire to see USA Basketball move its operational base to Tempe from Colorado Spring, Colo., per the sources.
In January, ASU backed out of plans with developer Concord Eastridge to construct a $436 million project on 10.7 acres of its campus at the southeast corner of University Drive and Mill Avenue that was set to be the new home of USA Basketball and include a hotel, retail and residential components.
The move put the future of not only the project, but USA Basketball's long-planned move to Tempe in doubt, and contributed to some friction between the two entities. Colangelo, who has been with USA Basketball since 2005, has been trying to get the operation to relocate to the Phoenix area since at least 2010 according to public documents.
"My commitment to bringing USA Basketball to the state of Arizona has been a long one," Colangelo told the Arizona Republic, following ASU's decision in January. "That commitment hasn't changed whatsoever. The goal and objective was to have a home for USA Basketball in our state for all the right reasons. From my personal standpoint, there's a lot at stake.
"I'm still hopeful when the smoke clears, there is a path" for the project. "What's important is whatever the eventual outcome is that everything be addressed in quick fashion."
ASU's basketball coaching search has become a potential means by which the university and Colangelo can help bridge a gap between the two and deliver USA Basketball to the Tempe campus, which is viewed by officials at the school to be a transformative opportunity it doesn't want to miss out on.
A strengthened alignment of Crow and Colangelo would be viewed as favorable to not only the project, but Crow's stated efforts to make Tempe and the ASU campus a destination for Olympic level sports and training facilities, and potentially other business dealings with the University.
Colangelo has a close business and personal interaction with Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski, who has been the U.S. National Team's head basketball coach since 2006. That relationship has contributed to ASU's consideration of two former Duke players.
Current Duke and USA Basketball assistant coach and scout Jeff Capel was first reported by Scout.com to be a leading early candidate for the ASU coaching vacancy Tuesday, within hours of the dismissal of Herb Sendek by ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson.
Capel, who was previously head coach at Oklahoma and Virginia Commonwealth University, remains a strong candidate as the Blue Devils prepare to play Utah Friday in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16.
The Sun Devils also on Wednesday had a preliminary conversation with current Buffalo head coach and former Duke All-American point guard Bobby Hurley about their opening, according to a source.
Hurley, 43, and ASU are scheduled to have additional dialogue this week, the source said.
In his recently concluded second season at Buffalo -- his first head coaching job -- Hurley led the Bills to a 23-10 (12-6) record in the Mid-American Conference and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Published reports have Hurley agreeing to a contract extension with Buffalo, and also interviewing with DePaul about its coaching vacancy in coming days.
ASU plans to be diligent about its process and conduct a national search according to Anderson, who also said Tuesday ASU will not comment further on its search until it is complete.
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