Arizona State's Bobby Hurley at odds with AD over allegations

Arizona State basketball coach Bobby Hurley accused athletic director Ray Anderson of "disturbing" actions when dealing with harassment allegations against a prominent athletic booster in a December email.

According to documents obtained by Yahoo Sports, Hurley emailed Anderson on Dec. 8 to express his displeasure with the way the athletic director handled sexual harassment allegations by three women -- including Hurley's wife, Leslie -- against booster Bart Wear.

"I thought there would be more sensitivity and consideration to all victims involved relative to [redacted]'s attendance at our basketball game. ... You had prior knowledge that he was going to be in attendance and that was very disappointing," Hurley wrote to Anderson in an email. "Mainly because you made no effort to make me aware of that, especially after you came to practice on Thursday and assured me that [redacted] would no longer be around men's basketball. This was very misleading and I feel I have been lied to."

Hurley went on to accuse Anderson of judging the alleged assaults on a scale.

"You have disregarded the safety and shown no sensitivity towards the women that have experienced sexual assault," Hurley wrote. "You have chosen to create your own numeric scale on what sexual assault mean[s] which is disturbing."

According to Yahoo's documents, Anderson responded four hours later.

"Clearly, you have made judgements and conclusions, not to mention false and baseless allegations," Anderson wrote. "Your approach here is puzzling. This matter should now be firmly put in the hands of the lawyers. I will not engage with you directly on the [redacted] matters."

The email exchange stems from allegations that Wear sexually harassed Leslie Hurley; Kathy Cohen, the wife of former Arizona State senior associate athletic director David Cohen; and one other woman. Arizona State has acknowledged its slow response to the allegations, telling Yahoo Sports in February that the case "could have been resolved in a quicker time frame."

Yahoo Sports also obtained documents showing that Wear's season tickets were canceled on Dec. 10.

David Cohen, who oversaw the men's basketball program, says he was placed on administrative leave and then fired in December after he complained that the athletic department covered up Wear's alleged inappropriate behavior. In February, Cohen filed a $1.5 million claim against Arizona State for lost wages and pain, suffering and emotional harm. A notice of claim is a legal tool used to notify parties that a plaintiff plans to file suit.

In the notice of claim, Cohen alleged that his wife was trying to pass Wear in an aisle on her way to a restroom on March 14, 2019, at the Sun Devils' game at the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas. According to the claim, Wear allegedly put his hands on Cohen's wife's waist and moved them up the side of her body. He allegedly told her, "Dave is lucky to have you."

Cohen's lawyers wrote in the notice of claim that another woman accused Wear of rubbing her back and asking inappropriate questions, and the other woman accused him of putting his hand on her leg.

Wear denies the allegations.

According to azcentral.com, a university investigation confirmed the alleged harassment incidents involving Wear, but Arizona State officials said Cohen wasn't fired in retaliation for reporting Wear's behavior. Arizona State said Cohen was fired for refusing to cooperate with a department reorganization and "prior instances of poor behavior," according to azcentral.com.

Wear, an Arizona State alumnus and investor, filed a $5 million claim against the university in May, alleging that an independent investigation into his behavior by a law firm ignored witnesses and relevant information. According to the university, the external investigation "did not conclude that the donor had grabbed anyone or sexually assaulted anyone, nor did any of the three individuals claim that he had done so. The investigation did conclude that the donor had subjected three individuals to unwelcome comments and physical contact."

Wear's attorney described the external investigation as "character assassination" and a "hatchet job."

"A review of [the] report showed bias, exaggeration, conclusions not based on credible information and a complete failure to even attempt to speak to the eye witnesses Wear provided that would have contradicted the claims," Wear's attorney wrote in the claim.

Hurley took over in Tempe in 2015. He took the team to back-to-back NCAA tournaments in 2018 and 2019 and was on track to go for a third straight time in 2020 before the NCAA tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Anderson was named Arizona State's athletic director in 2014.

In a statement Wednesday, Hurley said his relationship with Anderson is "strong."

"We will work together, alongside my outstanding coaching staff, toward the continued success of Sun Devil men's basketball," Hurley said.

Information from ESPN's Mark Schlabach was used in this report.