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How UConn Built a Fifth National Championship Run

  • The Huskies built their historic title run with two savvy business decisions.
  • They hired coach Dan Hurley in 2018 and rejoined the Big East in 2020.
Apr 3, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies head coach Dan Hurley celebrates after walking off the court after defeating the San Diego State Aztecs in the national championship game of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Five years ago, the UConn Huskies had a losing record and played in different basketball conference. Now, they’re national champions for the fifth time in program history — only three D-I men’s basketball teams have more titles. 

The Huskies built their historic title run with two savvy business decisions: rejoining the Big East and hiring coach Dan Hurley. 

In 2018, the Huskies brought Hurley in after firing coach Kevin Ollie — who led the program to a national championship in 2014 but had struggled since (the department was still paying Ollie’s multimillion-dollar buyout in 2022).  

Hurley reportedly signed a six-year contract that pays about $2.9 million annually, slightly less than UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma makes

A year later, UConn accepted a bid to leave the American Athletic Conference and rejoin the Big East. 

In the AAC, they had struggled with an unsuccessful football team and faced high travel costs and little basketball competition for their men’s or historic women’s program. 

But when the Huskies returned to the Big East, they were able to focus on basketball — which helped with recruiting, as multiple pundits pointed out. In turn, the program’s arrival helped reinvigorate the new Big East.

Now, the conference boasts three national championships since it reformed a decade ago — and UConn enjoys its blue-blood status. 

“The Big East was the best conference in the country this year,” Hurley told reporters Tuesday night. “We were the best conference in this tournament, and I don’t think we’re going anywhere.”

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