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Source: No decision on UNLV hoops hire to be made until ‘at least Sunday’

UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood eyeing Monday afternoon press conference to introduce new coach


Justin M. Bowen

UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood listens to a presentation to the Board of Regents on Friday, Feb. 11, 2011, regarding a proposed UNLV stadium.

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A source close to UNLV's search for a new men's basketball coach confirmed to the Sun early Friday morning that no official decision or announcement will be made until "at least Sunday."

However, the goal of UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood, who is spearheading the search, is to hold a press conference introducing the 15th coach in program history on Monday afternoon.

The interview process with the four finalists for the job was not wrapped up until late Thursday night.

The first to sit down with Livengood and the UNLV brass this week was BYU associate head coach Dave Rice, who several sources close to the situation maintain is still in the lead position heading into the weekend.

Rice, a reserve guard on UNLV's back-to-back Final Four teams in the early 1990s and an 11-year Rebels assistant coach, interviewed Wednesday afternoon. He stayed in town until Thursday for the first day of the spring recruiting contact period, taking in yesterday's open workout at Bishop Gorman High alongside several other coaches.

After Rice, it was St. John's assistant coach Mike Dunlap's turn, with his interview not wrapping up until the wee hours of Thursday morning. Livengood & Co. were back at it by mid-Thursday afternoon, welcoming in Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach and former UNLV great Reggie Theus. He was followed by former Oregon and Saint Mary's head coach Ernie Kent.

Theus, who was also considered a top candidate alongside Rice as soon as the job came open with Lon Kruger's unexpected departure for Oklahoma last Friday, last night called it a "positive meeting." He flew back to Minnesota late last night to scout for the T-Wolves' Saturday road game against the Denver Nuggets.

Whoever gets the job takes over a team ready to win right away, as the Rebels return all but two players from a team that went 24-9 last season and made its fourth NCAA tournament appearance in five years. There will also be heavy pressure to recruit at a high level right from go, as the local crop of talent in the upcoming senior class is deeper than it has been in years.

For more on this story as it develops throughout the weekend, stay tuned to lasvegassun.com/rebels.

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  1. I guess the ink didn't dry fast enough on Rice's business cards.

    Seriously, this makes perfect sense and what I was thinking all along. I don't know why anyone would have thought an announcement would come on a Friday. Typically you only want bad news to get out on a Friday as a good number of people aren't paying attention/making weekend plans and the news quickly gets forgotten over the weekend.

    Particularly in this case considering two candidates (in particular the popular Reggie Theus) didn't even interview until last night it would have been a professional slap in their face to turn around and make Rice's announcement so soon. This way it seems they are "seriously deliberating" their decision.

    On a side note, still waiting for the positive profile on Reggie Theus. Fair and balance ;)

  2. Erine, Don't expect Fair and Balance, the coverage by Greene has been nothing but that, biase and lop sided more like it. You would think Green is mowing Rices lawn, and washing his car. I can't see why Livingood can't work out a deal were Rice is an assistant head coach under Theus. All he is an assistant at BYU anyway. Rice has NO head coaching experience, unless you call a couple games at BYU experience. Kids want to play for someone who has head coaching experience at both the college and NBA level. Reggie is the only canidate that can say just that. This shouldn't even be a debate. Who do you trust with judgement, Ryan Greene our Jerry Tarkanian? That's a no brainer, this city will boil over with excitement only if Reggie Theus is named the head coach.

  3. @Ernie - There is no balance they only lean one way.

    We've known for a week that Rice will be coach & this whole interview process is just a smoke screen. I really hope he can put together a staff that will pick up what he lacks.

  4. Regardless. I am excited for Rebel basketball.

  5. Everyone knew the job was Rice's . Just have to wait and see what the recruits think and if the fans will back him.

  6. Erie Baer ... why are you using that name ... Ernie passed away several years ago and was very close to Dave Rice ... Ernie was a good friend of the Runnin' Rebels giving of himself and his time to help Tark any way he could.

  7. ErnieBaer... Ryan also stated in a previous article in the discussion section that if the people who he reached out to for positive comments/stories got back to him, he would be writing a story in favor of Theus. Perhaps that didn't occur. Even if thats not the case, when did newspapers/websites after have to be "fair and balanced." As Ryan is now out of town, I'm guessing the "pro-Theus" story may not be coming. I'm sure the lack of a Theus-related had a ton of bearing on the selection process. It's amazing that everything becomes a conspiracy when people don't get what they want.

  8. Here's the link if you need a refresher. 11 comments down. You're welcome.


  9. Hey, didn't your mom ever teach you guys that life is not fair. So stop waiting for it to be and stop complaining and learn to except it. I wanted theus too (check my past comments) but I'm a big enough boy to know rice is a fine canadate too. If anyone calls themselves a fan and is not willing to give rice a chance before he proves himself then you are the one hanging behind the smokescreen of being a rebel fan. Your probably a duke, Reno, or byu fan in disguise.

  10. Isn't fair and balanced supposed to be Fox News.

  11. Hey Mike Lange.....How would you know Ryan is out of town? Do you carry his jock too?

  12. I really like Dave Rice and I think that he could bring back the Runnin' to the Runnin' Rebels. I think that he would be a good hire. However, I love the prospect of bringing back Reggie! He will bring back the old Rebels; runnin', gunnin' and winning with scores well above 70. How many times did we score in the 70's during krugers era? Not many! The era of the walkin' Rebels have left with kruger. As many have stated, rice would be kruger-lite; same stuff, different head man. With all this said, I still believe that the parade of candidates was a charade and rice will be introduced as the new Rebels coach on Sunday or Monday. I'll still support the team, just like I do with haucks boys. But as an alumnus and booster, I will not have the same level of patience. We should be playing in the second weekend of March on a regular basis. Reggie is my choice but he has no shot! livinalie (because this process is fake) or livingood (because he is going to get another retirement check when he leaves UNLV) is just playing a game with the results already inked-in. I hope that it is true that he is leaving next year.

  13. And, btw, don't slander Fox News by comparing it to the Sun...please. That is almost as bad as one really thinking that any candidate is being considered besides Rice. Well, once he is introduced, let's see if Allen, Shabazz and Carter all say that they are going to stay home and bring a championship to UNLV! If that happens then I will be the first to say that I was totally wrong about Davey. Blood may be thicker than water!

  14. my buddy who has some connects in the athletic department has been hinting that Rice is the guy, indicating that this wait is all a smokescreen.

  15. Livengood is great AD. he picked up Az's football, was there for thier championship team in basketbal, picked a winner in our baseball coach and we will see what's up with haulk. If he leaves ( which would be very bad) then that's code for the mt west is going down and unlv with it, in all this realignment. I can't see why both of the head men would leave so fast if they didn't know something we didn't about the mt west that is really bad for us.

  16. I agree with Djk...Livengood knows what he is doing & has already stated that he knows this hire will define his tenure here. At AZ he hired Stoops, Miller, and Lopez for football, hoops, and baseball & they were all upgrades. His only whiff there was Mackovic. The pt being this aint his first pressure hire. Here Hauck & Chambers are obviously long term upgrades as well. Plus the whole campus stadium initiative was dormat until he came along & now its alive. He was also Chairman of the NCAA Selection Committee. Why anybody would hope a person with those credentials & ties would leave their school is beyond me. This booster is ELATED with the direction...but more importantly.....Vision.... of the current Athletic Dept. As for this hire...Theus, Rice or Dunlap will work for me. All three are Very good candidates.

  17. I'm with you guys. Livengood's track record and experience speaks for itself. So many things are moving in positive directions for UNLV Athletics and Livengood has had a large part in that. Hauck appears to have things headed in the right direction and Chambers will have UNLV baseball competing for the College World Series by next year. As DJ stated, I'd be happy with Rice, Theus or Dunlap. I lean a little bit toward Rice, but that's just my opinion. I'm not sure why everyone who supports Theus has taken to bashing Rice and predicting doom and gloom for the program if Rice is indeed hired. I'm not sure where the "Kruger-lite" comparisons are coming from either. If this really is Theus's dream job and he wants it that badly, he'll still be around in a few years if Rice crashes and burns, which seems to be what some of you want just so you can feel vindicated in your "outrage" over your "guy" not getting the job.

  18. Opportunity knocks only so many times. There are plenty of DR out there who would do a better then average job. Great, take the safe approach and always be on the outside looking in or sit with thoughts of what could have been. Look at Dave Rose the past 5-7 years, splendid record at BYU, one appearance in the Sweet 16 and most likely will be another 6-10 years before they get back. Lon Kruger, same thing in his 7 years at UNLV. Do we think Shaka smart will have another run like this year, very unlikely. UNLV is not a mid-major flash in the pan run in the tournament. UNLV is a prestigious BB school and should be respected as such.
    Or we could take a shot at a guy who has all the intangibles that would put UNLV in that elite status. It wasn't until UNLV made the Final Four runs in the 90s, that players like Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, the Obannons, shawn tarver and a host of others considered UNLV and actually were going to attend. Reggie Theus will put the swagger back at UNLV. Dave Rice will be another good to great coach that your mother would be proud of. It has nothing to do with whether we like DR or not, there is just a better option on the table with Theus. And most Rebel fans who believe there is still a germ left of the dynasty of the 90s wants to return to that level.

  19. @MikeLange: 1) No need for the reminder, I recall what Greene said. Didn't believe it then and don't believe it now. It is not like there aren't several people he could have contacted locally(including some famous former coach) who could have spoken well on Reggie's behalf. He chose not to do it. I find that quite interesting. 2) You're welcome to research and point to where I said the media's coverage has had a significant impact on the selection process. What I have said is the coverage has been pretty biased in favor of Rice. I doubt it has had any impact on the selection process as they had their minds made up very quickly. I do think it has helped shape some of the public debate however.

    @kczsjohnson: No need for the education my friend. I know the name and story very well which is why I chose it. Family was boosters/season ticket holders back to the convention days and frequent part of the traveling party for many years, up until Tark was forced out. Ernie was as passionate as any Rebel fan there has been and as I recall the Sun did a feature on him as well as other media outlets. Ernie wanted the program to be as great as any basketball program in the country. I want the same!

    While I certainly won't speak as concretely on his behalf as you chose to do, although he did think quite a bit of Dave my instinct tells me he would have preferred Reggie for the job at this time. Reggie is the one with the resume that has the best chance at returning the program back to its past greatness.

  20. Its not that there are a bunch of Rice haters, a lot of us firmly believe that Reggie is much more qualified & would do a better job here then Rice. Rice is a great guy, stand up individual, good associate head coach but Reggie has all star pedigree & would kill it recruiting major athletes. Dave might get the Rebels at the bottom of the top 25 while I believe Reggie could put UNLV back in the top 10. There are some places where coaches just fit, it's just too bad Livengood is going with the lessor of the 2 IMO. I will support Rice because I love the Rebels but it will always be in the back of my mind that JL sold out UNLV short and left a fortune on the table.

  21. If Livengood is so good why did he step down to come to UNLV?

  22. Guess the same reason Kruger took a step down from illinios and Tark turned down a job to coach the lakers. Maybe they see something you don't. Oh yeah and if unlv is such a step down then how come theus ( who so many people thinks is the next Billy Donavan or bill self) thinks of unlv as the dream job. Surely his legacy here is not great enough and the city of under 500,000 that was here when he played here is not the same to make him think that. Maybe it just isn't a down grade from any west coast school. The key part in livengood coming to unlv is that he left to come here. He was not fired.

  23. Theus is only logical choice by a million miles. Rice will only move the program sideways as best, just as well have kept Kruger. Bring back the crazy passionate basketball we used to watch.

  24. Can we get Theus in here, please?

  25. I've got nothing against Theus or Rice and If Dave Rice gets the job so be it. He played here more recently he's seen greatness during UNLV title runs and knows what it takes. Some of the best coaches in history are usually underachievers as players but great teachers of the game. I saw BYU this year and this was the first year they had the better athletes he can recruit. Also all the parents that worry about UNLV's quality of education right now I'd rather have a graduate from UNLV no less than a Rhode Scholar to put their minds at ease.
    He'll be fine in the community start scheduling are old rivals instead of teams from the Midwest.(Kansas State) Rice knows want it means to us older Alumni to beat Alford every time, he was there for the Utah State fight, he knows we hate Duke, Arizona, North Carolina he gets it. He is NO Kruger Lite not by a long shot!
    UNLV Alum 89' and RAF member season ticket holder!

  26. I'm telling you, here in New Mexico the Lobo fans are hoping UNLV hires Reggie Theus. We here have seen his act. It's not very good.

    One of the things Kruger brought to the UNLV program was stability. The other was class. Hire Theus, lose those things fast.

  27. If we want a top 25 program again that can compete nationally and if we want Thomas & Mack packed again, Reggie Theus is the man. He will take UNLV basketball to the next level.

  28. As a Lobo Alumnist I dont know who hedon is talking about. Everyone I know thinks Theus is the man!

  29. check the RJ article today. Danny Tarkanian weighs in

  30. I think that both candidates can get this program to the next level. My heart tends to go out to Reggie. This has been his dream job for years, and he interviewed before. Now he is an extremely viable candidate, who probably been hired over Kruger if he had this resume then. I feel for the guy, and he would be an excellent coach

  31. 70 year old coach. me thinks not

  32. Larry Brown is a bit too late for interviewing FC. He needs to retire at 70 years old.

  33. I have a question for Ryan Green. Thinking back to the day when we all found out Kruger was leaving. I remember how at first it was more like a rumor then a fact. But, even before it was a sure thing you were stating that Rice and Theus were the most likely applicants. And then right on cue, Livengood comes out stating that Rice and Theus are the main guys. Does Livengood receive his orders from the Sun? Did you know more then you were letting on?
    How do you explain this amazing coincidence??

  34. Hire Rice now. He's a great college coach who knows success from just a few weeks ago.

  35. Larry Brown's interest only makes the inevitable Rice hiring that much more vanilla.

    "Easily top-5 active basketball coach (anywhere, any level) with NCAA and NBA titles? Nah, let's get the mid-major assistant w/ no head coaching experience."

  36. Milktoast Rice will turn UNLV into byu south, thats not what I want to see. Talked to several long standing Rebel fans who dont want to see it either. Livengood will not hire Reggie because he knows he cannot push Reggie around but Rice is soft & controllable. He will recruit the kind of players that will make byu proud but thats not what we want here. This is one of the biggest hiring blunders I can think of.