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Rice staying put at UNLV with 2-year extension proposed by administration

The Rebels’ coach won’t be heading to South Florida, which had reportedly offered him a long contract

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV coach Dave Rice calls out a play during their Mountain West Conference tournament game against Wyoming on Thursday, March 13, 2014, at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 71-67.

Updated Saturday, March 29, 2014 | 10:52 p.m.

Dave Rice gets two-year contract extension

UNLV head coach Dave Rice angrily calls a time out after the Rebels fall behind Utah State during their game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

A whirlwind 24 hours of speculation came to a close Saturday evening with UNLV coach Dave Rice in the same position he’s been for three years, except with extra security and more money than before.

After considering a contract to be the head coach at South Florida, Rice negotiated an extension and raise with the Rebels. Interim President Don Snyder and Athletics Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy announced Saturday night that they would recommend to the Board of Regents a two-year extension and additional incentive package for Rice.

Rice already had three years remaining on a five-year contract that paid him approximately $700,000 per season. The proposed extension, which is expected to be approved in the near future at a special Board of Regents meeting, would keep Rice under contract through the 2018-19 season.

“I have great respect for Coach Rice and the job that he has done at UNLV,” Snyder said in a statement. “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.”

The Rebels went 20-13 this season with no postseason, although Rice is 70-31 with two NCAA Tournament trips over three seasons. The incoming recruiting class of Goodluck Okonoboh, Dwayne Morgan and Rashad Vaughn, was talking to each other about exploring other options should Rice take USF’s offer. That helped make Rice’s case for his importance, though the negotiations reportedly focused more on systemic issues regarding the program’s overall health than any current personnel specifics.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

There were many different contract offers from USF reported since Friday afternoon, but a source close to the situation said it was six years for $1.3 million per season. Even the offer itself was in dispute at various points as ESPN reported Saturday morning that USF didn’t actually make a formal offer. Instead it was understood that the job was Rice’s if he wanted it, they said.

It’s unclear exactly what Rice’s salary will be once this extension gets approved.

“We are thrilled that Coach Rice will lead our men’s basketball program into the future,” Kunzer-Murphy said in a statement. “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. Dave cares deeply about our student-athletes, the university, our alums and the Las Vegas community, and we are proud to have him as our head coach.”

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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