A week that began with reports that UNLV’s football program could be facing a possible bowl ban because of poor academic performance could end with the basketball team losing its head basketball coach, not to mention several key members of a national top five recruiting class.
Welcome to the job of UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Friday afternoon that Rebel head coach Dave Rice had been offered the head coaching position at the University of South Florida.
Rice, who still has three years remaining on a $700,000 per year deal at UNLV, has been offered a five-year contract that would pay him $1.4 million per year.
Rice would take over for Stan Heath, who was fired after compiling a 97-130 record in seven years with the Bulls, including a 12-20 record and last place 3-15 finish in the American Athletic Conference this season.
New South Florida athletic director Mark Harlan, who previously was a senior associate athletic director at UCLA, had initially hired Manhattan College’s Steve Masiello to replace Heath but rescinded the offer when a background check unveiled that Masiello had lied on his resume, saying he had graduated from the University of Kentucky when UK records showed he never earned a degree.
Rice, reportedly flying back from Florida on Friday afternoon, has not return interview requests. He is expected to meet with Kunzer-Murphy as soon as tonight.
Rice’s possible departure would likely see the dismantling of a top-five national recruiting class. Forward Dwayne Morgan, who signed with the Rebels in November and rated the No. 15 prospect in the nation by Rivals.com, issued the following tweet indicating he would likely ask for his release from his letter of intent.
@Dwayne_Wise yo fam back to the drawing board .
— Dwayne Morgan (@_theREALdeal15) March 28, 2014
Another key UNLV recruit, guard Rashad Vaughn of Findlay Prep, has yet to sign with the school.
UNLV finished 20-13 last season and missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons under Rice.
Several current Rebels took to twitter to urge the school to keep Rice.
— Christian M. Wood (@Chriswood_5) March 28, 2014
Pay the man! #InRiceWeTrust
— Kendall Clay-Smith (@Ken2Smoove) March 28, 2014
Stay tuned for further updates.