It would not be inaccurate to say some eyebrows were raised when word leaked that Arizona State University was giving a contract extension to men's basketball coach Herb Sendek.
The contract, which still needs to be approved by the Arizona Board of Regents, would extend the coach's contract to the 2018-19 season, as well as give him a raise.
ASU is coming off a season in which it finished 21-12 (10-8 in the Pac-12) and reached the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Texas on a buzzer-beater in the second round. In eight seasons with the Devils, Sendek has guided the team to a 140-119 overall record, with a 64-80 mark in the Pac-12, along with two NCAA Tournament berths.
"Very frankly, I wanted to take time to make my own personal assessment of how I viewed Herb," vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday. "So after the season he came in and we sat down and spoke very specifically about the fact that I'd like to see him solidify his coaching staff, and then I'd like to see him really have an organized, very targeted recruiting process.
"...in my judgment, it was advisable to extend Herb now, reduce any question about who our head coach is for the next four or five years..."
"And very frankly, he met those two things in very short order."
Anderson pointed to the retention of assistant Stan Johnson as well as the hiring of Barret Peery as examples of what Sendek has done right since the end of the season, as they help in both coaching and recruiting.
And it's the latter area, Anderson said, that helped play a major role in the contract extension.
"I saw him, and continue to see him now, really attract some top recruits to Arizona State," Anderson continued about Sendek. "Where their top five choices are down to schools like Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA, UConn, etc."
Anderson said parents and student-athletes would very directly ask about Sendek's job security, as other schools were using questions about his status against ASU in recruiting.
"We felt it was incumbent to be very straight with those folks, and hence it was revealed that in fact we were going to recommend a three-year extension because Herb deserves to be here as our head coach," Anderson said. "In my estimation he's doing the things that leaders should do. His graduation and academic progress is impressive.
"All those things together went into why, in my judgment, it was advisable to extend Herb now, reduce any question about who our head coach is for the next four or five years, and let's move on very aggressively, very positively as we move forward with our basketball program."