After nine years, five 20-win seasons and 157 wins, Herb Sendek was fired Tuesday from his position as head coach of the ASU men's basketball program according to Chris Karpman of Sundevilsource.com
BREAKING: Herb Sendek has been fired by ASU— SunDevilSource.com (@SunDevilSource) March 24, 2015
The evidence that indicated Sendek may be let go started Monday night with a report of a 9:45 a.m. meeting Tuesday morning between Ray Anderson and Herb Sendek by Chris Karpman of Sundevilsource.com. Hod Robino of DevilsDigest.com followed this report early Tuesday morning reporting a player's meeting had been called for 11 a.m.
Sendek's departure comes on the heels of an 18-16 season when the Sun Devils lost a non-conference game to Lehigh, and four straight games to open Pac-12 play. ASU rallied to a 9-9 finish and fifth in the conference. The maroon and gold were then upset by No. 12 seed USC in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. Again as the fifth seed in the NIT, ASU beat UConn but fell to Richmond after losing a lead late in the game.
After Rob Evans was fired following the 2005-06 season, Sendek took over after spending three seasons at the University of Miami (Ohio) and then 10 seasons at N.C. State. He went 8-22 in his first season in Tempe in 2006-07. Then James Harden came to town and the 1985 Carnegie-Mellon graduate found success with the maroon and gold. Over the next two seasons with Harden, ASU went 46-23 reaching the NIT quarterfinals in 2008 and the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2009. After his 2009-10 campaign with the help of Rihards Kuksiks, Derek Glasser and Ty Abbott, Sendek was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year as the team once again reached the NIT with a 22-11 record.
Although Abbott and Kuksiks were back for the 2010-11 season, the team fell on hard times, managing only a 12-19 record followed by a 10-21 year in 2011-12 with Trent Lockett and Carrick Felix leading the team averaging 13 and 10.5 points per game respectively.
The addition of local product Jahii Carson in 2012-13, an ESPN top-50 recruit, rejuvenated Sendek's career tremendously. The high flying guard along with Carrick Felix, Jonathan Gilling and a mix of Jordan Bachynski and Ruslan Pateev put the Sun Devils back over .500 at 22-13 and led ASU to an NIT win over Detroit before falling to Baylor.
Carson's was joined in his second season by Penn State transfer Jermaine Marshall, Bachynski and Gilling again and pushed the pace to a 21-12 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Sun Devils lost to Texas in the first round.
Pressure really started to build on Athletic Director Ray Anderson to get rid of Sendek after the Pac-12 Tournament loss to USC and highly touted recruit Markus Howard decommitted from the program. He told Bickley and Marotta the following last week on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM last week:
"How we do the process is really something we should maintain in terms of being private," Anderson said. "But at the end of day, I've got to make the decision. That's why I'm here. That's why President (Michael) Crow brought me here.
"The athletic director has to be able to make choices that he thinks (are) in the best long-term interests of the institution and our programs, and so that will be me."
The ASU fan base has long griped about Sendek's inability to recruit. The hiring of Todd Graham as football coach also didn't do Sendek any favors. As Graham began to turn the football program around with back-to-back 10-win seasons and spoke of national championships, the basketball program remained relatively stagnant even as fans grew to expect more.
The Sun Devils will now begin their search for a new head coach which could come from within or externally. Anderson already has experience making new hires with the hiring of Tracy Smith as the new head baseball coach last summer.
Sendek was scheduled to get a $100,000 raise on July 1st, 2015, which would have made him $1.3 million over the following year. His contract was set to run out on June 30th, 2017 with potential year-by-year extensions available based on performance incentives.