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Top UNLV brass to recommend 2-year extension for Rice

(STEVE MARCUS/Las Vegas Sun)
(STEVE MARCUS/Las Vegas Sun)
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Updated: 3/30 2:08 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV ESPN.com) -- UNLV basketball coach Dave Rice will stay at his alma mater to coach the Runnin' Rebels.

UNLV Interim President Donald Snyder and Director of Athletics Tina Kunzer-Murphy announced Saturday afternoon that they will recommend to the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents that Rice’s contract be extended two years through the 2018-19 season. 

Rice met with new University of South Florida athletic director Mark Harlan in Tampa on Friday, sources told ESPN. Rice flew back to Las Vegas on Friday and met with UNLV officials.

Sources told ESPN that Rice did not have an "official offer" from USF, but there was an understanding he could have the job. However, that is no longer the case, sources said.

Rice, who makes $700,000 a season at UNLV, is expected to remain at his alma mater.

Rice was a former assistant coach at BYU, and has been at the helm at UNLV for three seasons. He is an alum who took the Runnin' Rebels to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first two seasons, but the team struggled this season and finished 20-13 overall, 10-8 in Mountain West Conference play.

Earlier this week, the Bulls reached an agreement with Manhattan coach Steve Masiello -- a five-year deal worth nearly $6 million -- but then rescinded after they discovered Masiello had not earned a degree from the University of Kentucky, as stated on his resume.

The recommendation to the regents 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 Snyder will recommend be held at the earliest opportunity specifically to address this matter.

Rice has three years remaining on his five-year contract, which was awarded to him after his first year at UNLV in September of 2012.

“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.”

Kunzer-Murphy added, “We are thrilled that coach Rice will lead our men’s basketball program into the future. 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.”

“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.”

Rice has led UNLV to three straight seasons with at least 20 wins, two NCAA Tournament appearances and victories over seven ranked teams, including one over the nation’s No. 1-ranked team (North Carolina in 2011).

In addition, Rice and his staff have recruited elite talent to the program, including Anthony Bennett, who became the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

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