Sendek leaving NC State to coach Arizona State

Updated: April 2, 2006, 10:27 AM ET
Associated Press

PHOENIX -- North Carolina State basketball coach Herb Sendek has accepted an offer to become the coach at Arizona State, an official with knowledge of the deal confirmed Saturday night.

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Herb Sendek's decision to leave NC State for Arizona State didn't shock his new colleagues considering the way he had been treated by the Wolfpack faithful.

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The official spoke on condition of anonymity because there has been no formal announcement.

Arizona State athletic director Lisa Love, who attended the Sun Devils' spring football scrimmage Saturday in Tempe, was unavailable for comment.

Sendek is 258-158 in 13 seasons as a head coach, the last 10 with North Carolina State, where he is 191-132. He spent his first three seasons with Miami of Ohio.

Sendek led the Wolfpack to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances -- tying a school record set by the late Jim Valvano -- and reached the regional semifinals in last season.

He has been named coach of the year in two conferences -- the Atlantic Coast Conference two years ago and the Mid-American Conference in 1995, when he coached at Miami of Ohio.

The Sun Devils have been looking for a coach since March 10, when Love announced that Rob Evans would not return next season.

Her first target reportedly was Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, who spoke with Sun Devils officials before accepting a contract extension from Pitt through 2012-13, at a significant pay raise.

A few days later, Love's search took her to Milwaukee, where she met with former Utah coach Rick Majerus. She did not make him an offer.

As she launched the search, Love said she was looking for candidates with college head coaching experience, NCAA Tournament success and familiarity with the West Coast.

The 43-year-old Sendek was born in Pittsburgh and has not worked west of Lexington, Ky., where he served on Rick Pitino's staff at the University of Kentucky from 1989-93. Sendek also had been on Pitino's staff at Providence.

But Sendek's résumé is filled with NCAA tourney experience, including an upset victory over Arizona in 1995 while at Miami of Ohio. In his second year as a head coach, Sendek led a No. 12 seed to a first-round victory over the fifth-seeded Wildcats, the school's first NCAA Tournament win since 1978.

Arizona State has beaten Arizona, its archrival, once since 1995.

After the 1996 season, Sendek left Miami for N.C. State. The Wolfpack failed to make the NCAA Tournament in Sendek's first five years but have made it each of the last five.

This season, the Wolfpack drew a 10th seed, defeating seventh-seeded California in the first round before losing to second-seeded Texas.

Despite the string of NCAA appearances, Sendek had come under criticism from Wolfpack fans, many of them angry at his 17-54 record against Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest, the Wolfpack's three in-state ACC rivals.

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski understands better than most. He went 38-47 in his first three seasons with the Blue Devils and heard plenty of grumbling from fans, alumni and boosters, known as the Iron Dukes.

"There are still some people I would never talk to from that," Coach K said nearly two weeks ago, when asked about Sendek's situation. "But I'll always talk to my president and my administration -- they didn't flinch. He's really one of the terrific coaches in our country. He's a proven winner.

"Hopefully their people won't flinch, either."

In the end, however, Sendek decided to leave on his own.

"I can't say that I'm totally surprised, but I'm disappointed," said Mac Campbell Jr., president of the Wolfpack Club, the fundraising arm of the N.C. State athletic department. "I think it will be a good move for him. Herb is just a class individual."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press