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December 7, 2011

Sources: ASU ends talks with June Jones

Arizona State has ended contract talks with Southern Methodist coach June Jones due primarily to booster pressure and dissatisfaction with the potential hire in the broader community, ASUDevils.com has learned.

Jones is no longer under consideration for the job, sources said.

Numerous media outlets reported that a deal was in place and Jones would replace Dennis Erickson as coach of the Sun Devils, and agent Leigh Steinberg took to the airwaves on local radio station XTRA to implore ASU fans to give his client a chance amidst a storm of public backlash.

Jones won't get the opportunity.

A key meeting at Arizona State early Wednesday afternoon ended Jones' prospects, with athletic department officials and prominent supporters of the program concluding that the hire would be too difficult a challenge to overcome from a sales standpoint.

Public outrage at the prospects of Jones' move from SMU to ASU reached a fevered pitch Wednesday morning, when ASUDevils.com reported that Jones had, a day earlier, called his staff back to Dallas from the recruiting trail for an urgent meeting.

In that meeting, Jones told staff members that a deal was "95 percent complete" and the process of determining the recruiting transition was beginning to take shape.

Not long after, multiple reports from established media began to pile up on Twitter with word that ASU would announce Jones as its hire and Steinberg provided a radio interview about his client.

ASU sources, however, never confirmed that a deal was in place. Discussions were ongoing and a deal was very likely, according to several sources, but as the day wore on, continued pressure in the form of phone calls and emails, coupled with some concerns about Jones and his reported $2 million buyout, led to reconsideration.

In the Wednesday afternoon meeting, the athletic department's key figures collectively determined that hiring Jones was an untenable position.

ASU's search will now move in a different, as yet uncertain direction.

Jones, 58, is in his fourth year at SMU, which is in C-USA. SMU went 7-5 (5-3 in league play) in the regular season this year and is 23-28 since Jones took over in 2008, when the team went 1-11.

A perennial doormat of the conference, SMU had not been to a bowl game in 15 years until Jones led the program to back-to-back post-season appearances in 2009 and 2010. They'll again play in a bowl this season.

Prior to taking over at SMU, Jones was 76-41 in nine seasons at Hawaii, including a 12-1 effort and BCS bowl appearance in the Sugar Bowl following the 2007 season, his last at the school.

Jones is probably best known for his days as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons (1994-96) and at the University of Hawaii (1999-2007).


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