Okay, UNLV basketball fans can exhale now.
Runnin’ Rebel head coach Dave Rice – and his top-five recruiting class – aren’t going anywhere.
UNLV sent out a release late Saturday afternoon announcing that school president Donald Snyder and athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy will recommend that Rice’s contract be extended two more years through the 2018-19 season at the next Nevada Board of Regents meeting.
Rice met with the duo on Friday evening after reportedly landing a five-year, $6 million contract offer to become head coach of the University of South Florida Bulls earlier in the day. The Tampa Tribune reported Saturday that Rice “never received an offer or specifics on a potential contract” from USF athletic director Mark Harlan but Kunzer-Murphy told several news outlets Rice had in fact been offered the job.
Rice still had three years remaining on his original contract with UNLV worth $700,000 per year.
According to the UNLV release, the extension recommendation will include an incentive package that will provide additional compensation opportunities based upon academic and athletic success. The proposal will be presented at the next Board of Regents meeting, which President Snyder will recommend be held at the earliest opportunity specifically to address this matter.
“I have great respect for Coach Rice and the job that he has done at UNLV,” Snyder said. “The extension that we are proposing will provide a great opportunity for our program going forward. We are proud of the high standard of success that the Runnin’ Rebels have shown under Coach Rice not only on the court, but also in the classroom and with graduating student-athletes. While there were some disappointments this past season, I am excited about the future of the program under Dave’s leadership.”
“We are thrilled that Coach Rice will lead our men’s basketball program into the future,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “We have had a great deal of success in his first three years and are looking forward to even greater success in the future. No one is more dedicated, more passionate and works harder toward the goal of making the Runnin’ Rebels into an elite program than Dave. It is a process and takes time, but we are 100 percent committed to success.”
Rice will enter his fourth season at UNLV in 2014-15 but first without a NCAA Tournament berth despite a 20-13 finish. He has compiled a three-year mark of 71-32 at UNLV. The 71 victories over his first three years ranks second all-time at UNLV only to Hall of Fame coach Jerry Tarkanian, who had 73 wins in his first three seasons in Las Vegas.
“I am excited about the future of our men’s basketball program at UNLV and appreciate the confidence that the administration has in the direction we are headed,” Rice said. “Our staff has done a good job of assembling next season’s team. We are looking forward to coaching the returning players as well as the newcomers.”