Docs: Bobby Hurley accuses ASU AD of 'disturbing' behavior in booster controversy

Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley watches from the sideline during a game against the St. John's Red Storm in 2019. (USA TODAY Sports)

In an email sent from Arizona State basketball coach Bobby Hurley to ASU athletic director Ray Anderson in December, Hurley alleges that Anderson minimized the harassment allegations that three wives of ASU staff members brought forth against a prominent booster.

In an email on Dec. 8 from his Arizona State account, Hurley accuses Anderson of having “disregarded the safety and shown no sensitivity towards the women that have experienced sexual assault.” Hurley also writes to his boss, “I feel like I’ve been lied to.”

Hurley goes on to accuse Anderson of coming up with a numeric scale in which he judged the harassment claims by the three women, one of whom is Hurley’s wife, Leslie. Hurley asks Anderson how he’d feel if his wife and daughter were in a similar situation. “Maybe in your words, the sexual assault committed by (redacted) was a 2 or a 3, but if this had happened to Buffie or Kimmy, would it still be a level 2 or 3?” Hurley wrote in the email. He added: “You have chosen to create your own numeric scale on what sexual assault mean(s) which is disturbing.”

The emails, obtained by Yahoo Sports via a Freedom of Information Act request, further reveal the depths of the unrest in the Arizona State athletic department over the alleged actions of a former booster named Bart Wear. Anderson responds to Hurley that his email includes “false and baseless allegations.” Anderson adds: “Your approach here is puzzling.”

There have been two separate legal notices filed that are precursors to potential million-dollar lawsuits against ASU regarding Wear’s situations, including one by Wear himself. (Arizona State’s independent investigation “did not conclude that the donor had grabbed anyone or sexually assaulted anyone.”)

Hurley’s email was also sent to his own lawyer, Barry Mitchell, and Arizona State president Michael Crow. (No responses from Crow were provided by the school.)

The email came the day after Arizona State’s victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 7, and centers on Hurley’s anger over the presence of Wear seated in a “highly visible” place for the game. By this time, the university’s investigation into the allegations against Wear concluded that he subjected the three women to “unwelcome comments and physical contact.” Earlier that week, Anderson had attended an Arizona State practice and, according to the email, “assured” Hurley that Wear “would no longer be around men’s basketball.” That prompted Hurley’s “lied to” assertion, as Wear sat near the court “behind the cheerleaders” for the game. 

Hurley references early in the email a phone conversation with Anderson on the night of the game, which he recalled being disappointed at the “sensitivity and consideration to all victims involved” for Wear’s presence at the game.  

Hurley’s email indicates that one of the three women felt so unsafe about Wear’s presence at the Dec. 7 game that she spent the first half of the game near security in the tunnel. She then spent halftime by the locker rooms so she “felt safe.” The name is redacted in the email, but Hurley writes that the woman “should feel safe in Desert Financial [Arena] and not terrified that (the booster) may come and confront her.”

The general tone of Anderson’s response came from him saying to Hurley: “This matter should now firmly be put in the hands of the lawyers.”

ASU included documents in the FOIA request – which were not requested – that show Wear’s season tickets being canceled on Dec. 10. One of the letters from the university to Wear says that if he attends ASU events in the future, “security may be asked to remove you from the premises.”

In February, Yahoo Sports reported the allegations the three women had against Wear, which were included in a legal notice. The notice of claim is a necessary precursor to a lawsuit and detailed allegations that the three women.

Wear has since denied the allegations in a legal notice of his own, calling ASU’s investigation into the claims a “hatchet job” and “a character assassination.” (He’s seeking $5 million.)

The other potential lawsuit tied to the allegations against Wear comes from former ASU assistant athletic director David Cohen. He filed a notice of claim for $1.5 million that says he was fired in retaliation for insisting Anderson and ASU officials investigate the claims against Wear. Arizona State admitted in a statement in February that the allegations “could have been resolved in a quicker timeframe.”

Cohen’s wife was one of the three women and she accused Wear of touching her inappropriately at a Pac-12 tournament basketball game in March of 2019. Cohen has yet to file a lawsuit, but is in the process of clearing administrative hurdles to do that. According to Cohen’s lawyer, Mike Perez, Cohen has filed a separate complaint on March 17 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a “necessary first step” to eventually file a complaint in federal court. The timing is uncertain.

“The email exchange demonstrates the university’s pre-disposition to give the benefit of the doubt to the accused before protecting his victims,” Perez said.

The email from Hurley isn’t the first allegation that Anderson minimized harassment claims. Cohen’s notice of claim alleged the school waited five months to investigate the women’s claims that Anderson took a golf trip with Wear “using Mr. Wear’s private plane service” six weeks after learning of the allegations. When confronted about his apathy toward launching an investigation, the notice says Anderson said he wasn’t going to be told “how or when to talk to a [expletive] donor.” (Anderson did not return a call seeking comment on Tuesday night and told Yahoo Sports earlier this year: “I’m not talking to you.”)

Hurley declined comment on Tuesday night and his lawyer did not return a call. Hurley is 93-69 in five seasons at Arizona State and had the Sun Devils on target for their third consecutive NCAA bid before the COVID-19 pandemic cut short the season.

ASU email

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