After Nine Seasons, the Herb Sendek Era Comes to an End at ASU

In nine seasons with the Arizona State Men’s basketball program, Herb Sendek had a 155-133 overall record at ASU including 68-86 in Pac-12 with two NCAA Tournament appearances. On Tuesday morning, Sendek has been relieved of his duties.

The and Sports360AZ contributor Chris Karpman broke the news Monday evening that Sendek’s job was seriously in jeopardy and there was a meeting set between him and Athletic Director Ray Anderson for 9:45 Tuesday morning. After a reported 20 minute meeting with the ASU Senior Staff, it had been determined that his time with ASU has come to an end.

“I have informed Herb Sendek that he will not be retained as the head men’s basketball coach at Arizona State University,” said Anderson in a statement Tuesday. “This has not been an easy decision for me. Herb has been a tremendous asset to this university and a pillar of our community, and his tenure over the past nine years has helped shift the direction of this program.
“We have a four-prong approach when it comes to evaluating all of our head coaches: integrity, academics, performance, and fan affinity advancement,” Anderson added. “Herb has been a true leader in the first two categories and his dedication to ensuring our student-athletes become successful young men has been unrivaled.”

Sendek and the Sun Devils hit a rough patch in late December into early January with a loss to Leihigh at home and then starting Pac-12 play 0-4. ASU was able to turn things around with the emergence of freshman point guard Tra Holder and forward transfer Savon Goodman and ultimately finished fifth in the conference after winning six of their last nine games. Two of those six included home wins over Arizona and UCLA who are both still alive in the NCAA Tournament.

The positive momentum ASU had going into the Pac-12 Tournament came to a screeching halt in their opening round conference tournament game against last place USC. The Sun Devils surrendered a 14 point lead in the final nine minutes and lost the game. There were many rumblings that the Sendek era would be in serious jeopardy and on Tuesday, we found out a result.

“However, our athletics department, university and community expect our men’s basketball program to compete consistently for Pac-12 titles, make regular trips to the NCAA Tournament, keep the best in-state talent, and energize our fans and donors,” stated Anderson. “Unfortunately, we have fallen short of these expectations.”

From my perspective, the Sun Devils may not have had the consistent success that is desired but in my dealings with Herb Sendek, there were few people I have had an opportunity to speak with that have more knowledge of the game of basketball. At times he got that out of his players, other times he did not. But what was always consistent, was that he was always a true professional and me being a basketball reporter as well as a big basketball at heart, I enjoyed the amount I was able to learn.

“Our national search for a new head coach begins immediately, but we will take our time and be deliberate in securing a leader that is the best fit for the program and our university,” explained Anderson. “The change will not impact Sun Devil Athletics’ operating budget as a result of paying Herb’s contract. A budget-neutral solution has been developed with assistance of donor contributions.”

Early reports have Duke assistant and former Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel as an early target for the Sun Devils. Capel, who got his head coaching start with Virginia Commonwealth in 2002, took the Sooners to an Elite Eight behind the stellar play of now NBA star Blake Griffin. Capel did not leave Norman, OK on positive terms the NCAA investigated his program and later found violations. Capel, now with his alma mater Duke, is still in the National Championship hunt with the Blue Devils alive in the Sweet 16.