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Anderson: ASU focused on ‘bright and electric future’ after Sendek firing

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TEMPE – Arizona State Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson is setting the bar high for the school’s next head men’s basketball coach.

“We’re going to give this basketball program a chance to compete consistently for championships,” Anderson said. “Now’s the time with the momentum we have at this university in this athletic department to make that happen.”

Anderson’s remarks came after he fired Herb Sendek on Tuesday following an 18-16 season that left the Sun Devils out of the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in Sendek’s nine years in Tempe.

“I’m not really concerned with the dismal past,” Anderson said. “I’m concerned with the bright and electric future.”

Anderson preached the importance of bringing in a “dynamic” recruiter and developer as coach and continued on the theme of electricity and energy.

“We’re not settling for folks who want to come in here and just think there’s no way up,” he said. “The person who comes in here will buy into the mission that this is a rocket ship, and they can be part of it if they come in here with the right attitude.”

Don’t expect a delay in liftoff, either. The last time Anderson launched a coaching search was last summer, when Tim Esmay resigned as baseball coach. Just more than two weeks later, ASU announced Indiana’s Tracy Smith would replace him.

Anderson was noncommittal about setting a hard time frame for hiring a new coach.

“I wouldn’t call it a short list. We are going to launch a national search,” he said. “It will be thoughtful. It will be deliberate so we don’t have a short list. We will be getting a list together in short order because in fact we want to make sure we get ourselves reset to be able to really get out and make sure we’re recruiting, we’re retaining and that will be our time frame. It won’t be a long time but we’re not going to hurry.”

Some media outlets reported on Tuesday that the job has been offered to Duke assistant and former Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel. Anderson refuted those assertions, alluding to his own history as an agent promoting clients.

“That is inaccurate,” he said. “One thing I know having been an agent is there’s a lot of speculation out there and agents are certainly trying to position their clients. But that is absolutely not true.”

Anderson started the sports agency AR Sports in 1984 and worked as an agent into the 2000s.

Sendek’s team was knocked out of the NIT Sunday with a 76-70 overtime loss at Richmond. Sendek was 159-137 in his nine seasons at Arizona State after coaching North Carolina State for 10 years.

Various reports said that there is more than $2 million left on Sendek’s contract, but a news release from the athletic department said outside sources will help pay out the remaining amount.

“The change will not impact Sun Devil Athletics’ operating budget as a result of paying Herb’s contract,” the release said. “A budget-neutral solution has been developed with assistance of donor contributions.”

The reaction to the change from Arizona State fans and students was hardly one of surprise.

“I guess I’m kind of indifferent,” ASU sophomore Shawn Womack said. “I think that being a D-I school with as big a population as we have, we should have a lot better team and a better turnout than he’s really given to us. Nobody was excited to go to games anymore, it felt like.”

Arizona State junior Paxton Carrasco echoed Womack’s sentiments.

“Pac-12 tourney is great. NIT is great and everything but what we really want is to make the tournament, the NCAA Tournament,” Carrasco said. “We haven’t gotten very far in that in many years.”

Not all students were pleased to see a shake-up, though. Patrick Carlson, a sophomore and executive member of the 942 Crew, Arizona State’s student section, said he would support ASU’s decision but was sad to see Sendek go.

“Back before his time, it was acceptable to be .500, and now he’s kind of given us a taste of winning,” Carlson said. “Herb Sendek did a great job involving the fans. He was one of the main reasons 942 Crew started. Attendance was down so he wanted to find some way to increase it again for students.”

Anderson said that he met with the men’s basketball team earlier Tuesday and told them he felt their best interests were being served by moving on from Sendek.

“If there’s one thing we really owe them, it’s the best instructors we can give them so that their experience is robust and they can be as successful as possible,” Anderson said. “That means you’ve got to have the best head coaches and support staff here. That’s what we intend to provide.”