ASU’s Bobby Hurley accused AD of minimizing alleged sexual assault
Arizona State basketball coach Bobby Hurley questioned vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson’s handling of a booster who allegedly sexually harassed three women with ties to the athletic department.
In an email to Anderson first obtained by Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel via a Freedom of Information Act request, Hurley said on Dec. 8, 2019, that he felt misled and like he had been lied to.
The night prior, Hurley said that booster Bart Wear had attended a basketball game despite Wear having been involved in an investigation for allegedly harassing women, one of whom was Hurley’s wife, Leslie Hurley.
“Where do I start? Regarding our phone conversation last night, I thought there would be more sensitivity and consideration to all victims involved relative to (redacted)’s attendance at our basketball game,” Hurley’s email read.
“His ticket location made him a highly visible presence for someone that has assaulted multiple wives of employees of Arizona State University.”
According to the university’s letter sent to Wear’s lawyer on Dec. 9, telling him his tickets were canceled, “It was the university’s understanding, per your letter of November 21, 2019, that Mr. Wear had decided to ‘cease any further contact, communication, financial support, and interaction with the university basketball program, its athletes, coaches or related personnel’ in order to avoid ‘putting anyone in circumstances of unconfortability.'”
ASU’s letter to Wear’s lawyer states Wear’s presence at the Dec. 7 game came after Wear swapped tickets to move seats from his usual location. The university added that the ticket office made the change, unaware of the “underlying situation.”
Hurley’s email went on to tell Anderson that the athletic director had “disregarded the safety and shown no sensitivity towards the women that have experienced sexual assault. You have chosen to create your own numeric scale on what sexual assault mean(s) which is disturbing.
“Maybe in your words the sexual assault committed by (redacted) was a 2 or a 3 but if this had happened to Buffie (Anderson’s wife) or Kimmy (Anderson’s daughter) would it still be a level 2 or 3?”
Anderson responded later that night, calling Hurley’s approach “puzzling” and that his accusations were “false and baseless.”
The athletic director then asked Hurley to speak with senior associate general counsel Kim Demarchi about the matter. Anderson said his and Hurley’s future discussions would be limited to the basketball team.
Wear’s season tickets were revoked Dec. 10, two days after the email exchange.
“This matter has been fully investigated and resolved,” an ASU spokesperson said in a statement to Arizona Sports. “We’ve moved forward and are looking forward to a very successful men’s basketball season under the leadership of Coach Bobby Hurley and Athletic Director Ray Anderson.”
Hurley released his own statement to The Athletic’s Doug Haller.
In February, former ASU senior associate athletic director David Cohen alleged that he lost his job last year “in retaliation for insisting athletic director Ray Anderson and other ASU officials investigate the allegations brought forward by the three women, including (Cohen’s) wife,” read a notice of claim.
Cohen alleged that his wife, Kathy Cohen, was harassed by Wear at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas on March 14, 2019. Kathy Cohen left her seat at halftime of a win over UCLA and walked by Wear to reach the stairs at T-Mobile Arena, and as she tried to pass him, Wear “put his hands on her waist, moved his hands up the side of her body to the sides of her breast, held his hands on the sides of her breasts and said, ‘Dave is lucky to have you.’”
The incident with Kathy Cohen led to two other wives, including Leslie Hurley, revealing to the Cohens that night that Wear had acted inappropriately to them as well.
Cohen first brought the allegations to Anderson on March 18, 2019, according to the notice of claim provided to ArizonaSports.com. An investigation wasn’t launched until late August or early September despite knowledge of multiple incidents involving Wear, Cohen’s notice states.
ASU disputed that allegation in February.
“Mr. Cohen was terminated from the university in August of 2019 after refusing to cooperate with a department reorganization that was planned prior to any complaints about the donor being made,” the school said in the statement released to ArizonaSports.com.
“Related to the donor issue, the university acknowledges that the matter could have been resolved in a quicker timeframe and has taken steps to remind those involved that we have investigative resources to deal with these types of issues as soon as they arise.”
An outside review of the allegations by a law firm did not determine Wear was at fault until November. That was prior to the Dec. 7 basketball game that led to Hurley emailing Anderson.
ASU’s statement said that it did not find Wear had grabbed or sexually assaulted any of the women, but it did conclude he subjected them to unwelcome comments and physical contact.
David Cohen took the complaint to Anderson on March, 25, per the claim, which added the investigation did not close until mid-November of that year as Wear continued to be involved in ASU athletic events.
“Although Mr. Cohen regularly interacted with this individual at events, he had not previously reported any concerns about his conduct and in fact was responsible for distributing the tickets to the event that placed the donor in proximity to his wife and the other individuals who expressed concerns,” ASU said in its February statement.
“When Mr. Cohen reported his concerns to colleagues, he indicated he felt the matter could be addressed privately with the donor through a request that he be more mindful of his conduct and respect the personal space of others.”