Cincinnati’s Cronin turns down UNLV offer

UNLV’s well-publicized courtship of University of Cincinnati basketball coach Mick Cronin came to a disappointing but not that all surprising end Friday morning when it was announced that Cronin had turned down the Runnin’ Rebels’ head coaching offer.

Cincinnati President Santa J. Ono broke the news via Twitter that Cronin, who grew up on the west side of Cincinnati and shares custody with a nine-year-old daughter that also lives there, would start his second decade as head coach of the Bearcats.

UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy, who seemed optimistic during the week about landing Cronin in several text messages to local media members, felt compelled to issue a statement after being left at the alter:

STATEMENT FROM UNLV ATHLETICS DIRECTOR TINA KUNZER-MURPHY REGARDING MEN’S BASKETBALL COACHING SEARCH:

“We brought Mick Cronin to Las Vegas to meet about our men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. We appreciate his interest in the position, but he is no longer a candidate as we understand he will be staying at Cincinnati. We wish him all the best.

“We have many outstanding candidates that are interested in this job, some we have already interviewed and others that we will be speaking with in the coming days.

“We have said all along that our target timeframe to have this search completed by is the Final Four and we remain on track.”

Kunzer-Murphy later told ESPN Radio 1100’s Mitch and Pritch Show that Cronin had verbally agreed to a deal before returning to Cincinnati on Thursday and learned of his decision to turn down the offer when she saw Ono’s tweet.

UNLV has been in the market for a new head coach since firing Dave Rice on Jan. 10.

“We’re moving on and we’re going to a great coach that will get our program back,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “There’s no need to panic. … We knew this possibly could happen and we’re ready for it.”

Todd Simon, UNLV’s ace recruiter who compiled a 9-8 record as interim head coach after Rice’s dismissal, is no longer in the running after accepting the head coaching job at Southern Utah on Thursday.

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