UNLV BASKETBALL:

Lon Kruger changes course, accepts head coaching position at Oklahoma

Former Rebels Dave Rice, Reggie Theus emerge early as likely candidates for UNLV vacancy

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV head coach Lon Kruger watches his team take on Illinois in the second round of the NCAA basketball championships Friday, March 18, 2011, at the BOK Center in Tulsa. Illinois won the game 73-62.

Updated Saturday, April 2, 2011 | 2:04 a.m.

Lon Kruger at UNLV

UNLV coach Lon Kruger waves to fans after cutting down the net following UNLV's 78-70 win over BYU in the Mountain West Conference championship game Saturday, March 10, 2007. Launch slideshow »

KSNV: Lon Kruger Leaving UNLV?

Ryan Greene discusses the potential departure of Lon Kruger as the UNLV Men's Basketball coach.

Selected tweets from Ryan Greene

  • "Hearing UNLV couldn't have extended him, as it's no guarantee that, with its financial troubles, it could have matched what he's currently making two years from now when his deal expired"
  • "The offer to Kruger from Oklahoma was its third push at him, he finally gave and said yes. 7 years, $16 million is what’s being reported."
  • "You’d have to think Dave Rice is UNLV’s first choice. At least he should be."
  • "If UNLV lands Dave Rice, consider Shabazz Muhammad coming to play for the Rebels a very, very strong possibility.”
  • "Would have been financially irresponsible for LK to say no to Oklahoma’s offer given UNLV’s current state. Can't blame him at all."
  • "LK will turn 59 in August. You'd have to assume this is his last stop. He'll retire in Vegas. Just built retirement palace in So. Highlands."
  • "Once Kruger leaving is official, it seems everyone I've talked to so far is in agreement on who the first call needs to go to: Rice"
  • "Two candidates who fit what UNLV can give : Rice and Theus. They need someone who wants the job as a dream job, not after just $$$."
  • "Just got confirmation that the UNLV team will be meeting on campus tonight."

Lon Kruger began his Friday as the UNLV men's basketball coach, packing for a trip to the Final Four and annual coaches' convention in Houston.

A few hours later, he'd finally given in to Oklahoma's persistence.

And a long, final day as the Rebels' head coach ended in the dark, quiet depths of the Thomas & Mack Center, where late Friday night, he met with a handful of his players and staffers after returning to town.

"I had no plans to leave early in the week," Kruger said to a group of media assembled down the hall from the team locker room. "Then they called back, and even the second time (I said no). They just stayed after it, asked to meet in Houston, which we did today, and at about 4 p.m. Vegas time, we decided to do it."

Kruger met with Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione and president David Boren, where he agreed to a 7-year, $16 million contract to take the reins of a once-proud program coming off of back-to-back losing seasons and a wave of NCAA violations.

He replaces the fired Jeff Capel, with Oklahoma paying a $500,000 buyout of Kruger's current deal that runs through 2012-13. Kruger's new salary in Norman will be roughly double the $1.1 million he was making annually at UNLV.

It wasn't just the money Oklahoma offered that was enticing, but rather the general financial security.

He's turned away interest from Arizona, USC and Oregon in recent years, but the current financial state of Nevada's system of higher education also helped tip the scales this time. Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed budget cuts, slashing universities' budgets by 17 percent. That said, there was no guarantee that Kruger could have maintained a similar salary if he were to sign an extension.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say the long-term financials are a part of it," said Kruger, who will turn 59 in August. "Yet, we've had those opportunities the last couple or three years, too. It's hard to measure the degree of uncertainty with budgets and the state and all of that. I didn't consciously stop to think about that, but certainly everyone's affected by that to some degree."

One word used unanimously by several in and near the men's basketball program to describe Friday's news was "shocked."

Earlier this week, Kruger addressed floating rumors connecting his name to the openings at Utah and Oklahoma with his players after one of the team's off-season workouts. He told them not to believe everything they read, assuring them nothing was going on.

"What I told them was exactly the truth," he said. "Things change, but when we talked about that, because I knew the rumors had gotten out there and that coincided with the time we said, 'Thanks, but no thanks.' We didn't know for sure that we were going until mid-afternoon today."

The hook that ultimately pulled Kruger in was the third that Oklahoma had tossed at him. The Sooners were in dire need of landing a significant name who could restore some luster to the recently tarnished program. They originally reached out to Memphis' Josh Pastner and Marquette's Buzz Williams, but both instead signed long-term extensions and stayed put. Then came feelers towards Illinois' Bruce Weber, who also said no.

Kruger heads to Norman having gone 161-71 in his seven seasons at UNLV, which was the longest he'd stayed at any of his five posts in the college ranks. He took UNLV to the NCAA tournament four times in the past five seasons, including one Sweet Sixteen berth in 2007, and is just 21 wins shy of 500 for his career. The move gets Kruger back closer to his Midwestern roots, as he was born and raised in Silver Lake, Kan., and was beloved as both a player and coach at Kansas State.

He'll likely bring his entire staff with him to Oklahoma, maybe shifting the role of one or two of those guys in order to make space for another assistant from the outside who can focus on recruiting talent to the Sooner's depleted cupboard.

As for whoever takes over UNLV, the talent is in place to win right away, as the Rebels only lose two players to graduation off of a team that went 24-9, falling to Illinois in their NCAA tournament opener two weeks ago in Tulsa, Okla.

Two former UNLV players fit that bill, and both have the backing of the program's fans and boosters: Dave Rice and Reggie Theus. Though Kruger said he doesn't believe the program hit a ceiling under him in recent years, both Rice and Theus, many believe, have what it takes to keep things on the rise in the wake of his departure.

Rice, who played on UNLV's national championship team in 1990, is the associate head coach at BYU. He was previously a UNLV assistant for 11 seasons and is more than ready to take over a program of his own. Not only would his uptempo offensive system perfectly fit with the current group of players at UNLV, but he'd have immediate, built-in local recruiting ties through his brother, Grant, who is the head coach at powerhouse Bishop Gorman.

Theus suited up for the Rebels in the late 1970s under Jerry Tarkanian, and was the head coach at New Mexico State from 2005-07, leading the Aggies to a 41-23 record and one NCAA tournament appearance. He left there to take over the NBA's Sacramento Kings, and is currently an assistant coach with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He's a noted star recruiter, as he was able to lure plenty of top talent from the East Coast to play for him in Las Cruces, N.M.

UNLV Athletic Director Jim Livengood could not be contacted on Friday to discuss the opening, and several messages left for him were not returned. He did, however, make his way down to Houston, where he will spend the weekend, likely beginning the search for his next major hire.

A source within the athletic department close to the situation told the Sun on Friday night that the process will likely be a quick one, lasting potentially no longer than two weeks.

As for the scene back in Las Vegas, it was a somber one late Friday night as members of the basketball program and administration filed out of the Mack following the brief meeting with Kruger.

Five players — Carlos Lopez, Kendall Wallace, Reggie Smith, Oscar Bellfield and Quintrell Thomas — showed up. A few others were out of town, while some were in town but didn't show. Kruger made a point of calling and talking to or either leaving messages for each of the players earlier in the day before heading back to town. News of his departure began leaking out at about 11 a.m. local time, and he wanted to speak with them once the deal was official.

"I didn't believe it at first," Wallace said. "It's definitely a little disappointing. It's a good offer he had, so you can't blame him. We wish him the best of luck. It was a good four years since I've been here.

"I think guys don't know what to think right now. It's kind of new, no one's really been through it. We really don't know what to think."

Still, with all of the talent coming back and where the program is now compared to when Kruger took it over before the 2004-05 season, the transition here in Las Vegas is likely to be smoother than it might be in Oklahoma, where Kruger said he'll be following the Rebels from afar.

"I think really, what we've done more than anything else, is we've established a really, really good foundation from which to keep growing," Kruger said. "There's a lot more room for growth. The next coach will tackle that, take it and hopefully keep it going.

"They're a special group. They'll play really hard and do great things."

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  1. Uggghhhhh...

  2. I hope all you clowns calling for Kruger's head are happy. At least he had some clout. Nobody out there brings what Kruger has brought.

  3. april fools?

  4. Total bummer. With the school's current financial situation, who are we really going to be able to pursue? A case of "be careful what you wish for" for all the Kruger haters.

    Dave Rice is certainly an attractive candidate. He's in charge of the offense and recruiting at BYU. Kruger has been criticized for both of those things over the last few years.

  5. FWIW:

    Frontline is currently airing an episode entitled "Money and March Madness" which illustrates how universities across America exploit student-athletes -- athletes that are responsible for generating billions in annual revenues for universities and private businesses throughout America while receiving only the opportunity in achieving degrees which most never obtain.

    A recommended viewing.

    : {

  6. Black Friday.

    I hope you Kruger pessimists are happy. I foresee dark days ahead for basketball.

  7. A sad and exciting day. To all those that felt Kruger hit his ceiling, at least have some respect and remember what he did for this program. Because of what Lon did here UNLV is back to the upper level of college basketball. We should wish him well and best of luck in his new endeavor.
    Now, let's start the campaign to bring Dave Rice to the T&M

  8. This is terrible news! But he never stays at a job that long, so it's not surprising...

  9. Let's get Dave Rice..You know he doesn't want to be an assitant for the Y in the WCC.

  10. Looks like Lon has hit it big! Who should UNLV go after for the new coaching position if this happens?

  11. this has to be april fools

  12. What about the Commitments he has lined up from players?

    uggh..

  13. That hurts with recruiting. You had Walker, Nigel, and Shabazz possibly lined up. That could all be out the window now. Ugh.

  14. I believed the Rebels were a good program with Kruger, but not a final four program. How much will the state's financial situation hurt the AD in finding a good replacement? Are the players that Kruger recruited still going to come to UNLV? The next few weeks will be interesting!

  15. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!! That is horrible! This is a huge loss for UNLV and Las Vegas in general!

    Well, all you Kruger haters, you got your wish. Now, who do you recommend for the job (that we could afford)? I think yesterday someone mentioned Reggie Theus. Neil says Dave Rice. Any others?

  16. This sucks. I wish it was a joke. But 7 years and $16 million isn't one.

  17. I know Rice wanted Walker at BYU. So Walker should be safe if they hire Rice. But what about shabazz and Nigel? Hard to say. But maybe Walker decides to go attend a Utah school now. They got to hire quick too. Signing day is April 13th and they have to have someone in place or we get no one! Reb players could transfer out too. Rice would be a good connection to all the Gorman players too with his brother coaching there. Time will tell.

  18. Good for him. He'd be stupid to stay at UNLV.

  19. Now I'm *really* pissed at Brian Sandoval. UNLV couldn't afford to match (or even come close to) the Oklahoma deal due to budget cuts. But keep lowering taxes, AMIRIGHT?!?!

  20. He's a nice guy but in the long run this will turn to be very good for UNLV.

  21. If players do transfer out they have to sit out a year. Kruger, what a punk.

  22. Keep in mind that Dave Rice's brother is the Head Coach at Bishop Gorman.

  23. Real unfortunate if this is true. Kruger was a class act representive for UNLV on and off the court, not to mention the decent tearms he has put together. Best of luck to Coach Kruger.Crossing my fingers this is a bad April Fools Joke.

  24. logic - that remains to be seen. We need to know who the replacement is before you can even consider making that statement.

  25. REGGIE THEUS NOW. We are a good team.....just a couple of players away from maiking a long run at the top......basketball is about recruiting....THEUS could do that right away and not have to worry about stocking the cupboards.

  26. i like Dave rice as an assistant...but if he came as headcoach he better have a recruiter from the wrong side of the tracks!

  27. What a step up. From a crumbling Mountain West conference and a so-so team. Yes, Sandavol is to blame, but the real culprit here is George Bush. It is all Bush's fault.

  28. Neil you are hilarious. What about Shabazz? Shabazz was never on UNLV's radar what are you talking about? UNC, Kansas, Duke are more like it. Thanks for the good laugh though. If you want to talk new coach on limited finances, and a heck of a recruiter, and proven winner I got one in mind. Look no further than right down the road in Henderson. Findlay Prep coach Michael Peck would be the perfect fit. He served as video coordinator for the Rebels for 4 years, and has established contacts with major national recruits, as well as international recruits. He also can coach. Year in and year out he coaches against top level talent, basically playing a college schedule traveling all over the country. There would be no more walking Rebels, as he demands full court pressure defense and getting out in transition and running. This guy has paid his dues UNLV should seriously consider this guy!

  29. This is a April Fools joke. No mention of this on Fox Sports.

  30. I keep hoping this is the most elaborate and cruel April Fool's joke ever... but I have a sinking feeling in my gut. This is terrible news.

    I realize a lot of people wanted Kruger's head, but we're going from a consistent NCAA Tournament team to a team full of unknown situations. We could be losing recruits, current players, and who knows what kind of funding impact this could have from boosters and more. We just got the Mendenhall Center built...

    This town was really behind Kruger for the majority of his time here. Be prepared for some backlash Kruger.

  31. being mentioned on espn

  32. Kruger's not stupid. Faculty are jumping ship. Students are jumping ship. Why should he sit idly by while NSHE regents consider a declaration of financial exigency - which might cost UNLV its Div. I standing - all because Sandoval and state legislature can't get their acts together? Smart, smart guy. There's NO OTHER UNIVERSITY IN THE COUNTRY that looks as unappealing as UNLV right now, to coaches, to students, to faculty members. Trust me, this is just the start of a massive defection of talent from the state. It's only going to get worse. Again, take the money and run, Coach Kruger - you are too good for this sinking ship.

  33. ESPN is reporting on their website that there is a deal in the works. Oklahoma website is reporting same thing. Maybe not a hoax.

  34. What's strange is the local guys on espn 1100 aern't even talking about this on the radio. They mention it, but they're not taking listeners calls on the subject?

  35. I suppose the new sports arena is still a done deal. Good for you Lon get it while you can.

  36. Nice move for Kruger. I think he'll maintain his "retirement palace" (according to Ryan's tweets) here in Vegas, so hopefully he'll come back after his time in Oklahoma. You can't fault the guy or moving to a better opportunity.

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing if they can land Rice/Theus or both. Kruger's offense and substitution patterns drove me crazy, as did his insistence on valuing defense (Hawkins, Jasper) over offense (two bigs at once, Mashour). While I respect the concerns that UNLV might not be tourney bound every year, I'm excited that we could be the next VCU/Butler.

    Rice would be an interesting pick if he could start helping grab local recruits. The Findley Prep guy also sounds like a legitimate choice. Either way, I'm happy to see that Kruger is going to get PAID in Oklahoma and compete in a major conference at a football school, and equally excited to see where our program is headed.

  37. Others to include in a roundup of talented Head Coach prospects besides the ones already stated:
    Dino Gaudio formerly of Wake Forest
    Pat Knight formerly of Texas tech
    Al Skinner formerly of Boston College
    Paul Hewitt formerly of GT
    Bruce Pearl formerly of Tenn. (If winning only matters)

  38. i guess going to Oklahoma every year for the tournament really grew on him. reading some of the comments from Oklahoma people they dont seem to excited about it

  39. As Corso is fond of saying, "not so fast, my friend." A Tulsa source is reporting that Chris Matthuis of our local Channel 8 News just spoke to Kruger, and he reports he is staying at UNLV. This is the problem with relying on "sources close to the situation." Why don't we wait to hear from the man himself?

  40. Yeah did our terrible game in Tulsa really sell the Sooners? lol

    I don't think there is any way we go after Bruce Pearl, Michael Peck, or Reggie Theus.

    We can't afford the NCAA scrutiny that Pearl would bring and Peck would be making a huge jump from the high school level. I think his ability to draw top-talent to a D-1 school (that does not dominate its opponents) is probably overstated.

    Theus doesn't have a college degree so I think, by UNLV's bylaws, he's out, too.

    Rice has to be considered the front-runner (and rightfully so).

  41. IrishLaw, Channel 8's twitter feed now says "BREAKING: Sources: Lon Kruger Out at UNLV"

    It's probably safe to assume it's true, at this point.

  42. I agree..Shabazz's dad would like him to go a year or 2 to UNLV so he's right here where they live. That's what I've heard from inside sources. I just talked to one of UNLV's biggest boosters and he said Kruger is gone. I'd go by his word more than Chris Matthuis. The Oklahoma blogs aren't positive about getting Coach LK. Maybe he should read those before signing! Ha.

  43. I know his mansion is almost complete in the guard gated Southern Highlands Golf Club.

  44. Sorry for jumping the gun, Theus has a B.A. from private, distance-learning college called California Coast University. So that excuse (that has been used elsewhere) might be out.

  45. I'd prefer Rice over Theus for sure. If Theus's players play like he did then defense would be non-existent! Ha.

  46. Thanks to all the naysayers who wanted him gone. Now they got their wish and next year will be terrible!

  47. Rice & Theus are sexy names, but also a tad unproven given that they have a grand total of 2 years of D-1 HEAD coaching experience.

    If we want a proven head coach who knows offense and has kids who over achieve, play hard, and win national player of the year awards - we look at Dave Rose. The guy knows how to coach and his university just awarded his great season by dropping (yes dropping) to the WCC. Imagine him coaching UNLV-caliber recruits.

  48. Not sure Rose would bail on BYU for UNLV. That's why I say Rice. But yea the WCC blows for sure.

  49. Coach I love ya, you gotta love the post NCAA media circus that is the D-1 basketball off season. It's nice to see that UNLV(inspite of it's clueless fanbase) has something the rest of the basketball world wants. Those of you who have followed UNLV long enough can remember the post 20 win seasons and Tark getting skewered in the press year in and year out from "fans". I gotta hand it to coach Kruger and his agent, I say he winds up with a 3 year extension and a nice raise from UNLV. If however this OU thing has legs and Lon is gone, shame on you jokes for fans lets see you put your money where your mouths are and find a coach that can takes this team from a perennial NCAA tournament team to something more for little to no money. Hey all you Lon Kruger haters do me a favor and remind me how deep Tark was taking his teams in the tourney 78-82? Stellar first three seasons for Tark and then 6 years of....? One if you scientists I'm sure can jog my memory. Oh by the way those were the same years Tark was leaving to coach the Lakers year in year out. Suckers.

  50. I'm with Neil as far as the recommendation for Dave Rice. Not only does he run a great offense, but he is a great recruiter, a former Rebel and his brother is the coach for Gorman. If anything, his hiring might help us with the Gorman kids, like Shabazz. The offense with Kruger wasn't a strong point, especially last yeat when we lost our two top shooters before the season started. The budget situation is tough, but with the new practice facility set to open, the talent we have coming back and the potential of the UNLV Now project, this is set to be a pretty good job.
    As far as Kruger, I'm not happy that he is leaving, but it doesn't break my heart either. He deserves all the credit in the world for rebuilding our program and putting as back on the map after a long time in the hole. He was great for UNLV and should be remembered as one of the best coaches we've had here. I really wish him the best of luck and can't say I blame him looking at the money and length of the contract he'll be getting.

  51. Its all an NCAA conspiracy I tell you. Sending us to Oklahoma for two tourneys in a row. Conspiracy. Either that or just bitter irony. Go where you will do best, Coach.

  52. Kruger did a nice job stabilizing the program, but if you look very critically (which normally I avoid in situations like these, since they're really trivial in the grand scheme of things), outside of an aberrational trip to the Sweet 16, this program has been either one and done or NIT since he got here.

    And I call the 16 year aberrational since Kevin Kruger did the heavy lifting that year, and the Rebs only got him due to some arcane NCAA rule that allowed him instant eligibility.

    Again, with a heavily critical eye, the team has relied heavily upon transfers from other programs, rather than building with pieces the program identified, brought in and built up. The result has been a bit of an Island of Misfit Toys, with 'talent' winning the winnable games, and 'team' not always delivering in games of consequence.

    From a personal perspective, not since the 16 year has this team really played with a sense of palpable joy. Hate on BYU all you want, but sitting close to the court, you could see how those guys played for each other and loved it. The Rebs always seemed a little too much like a collection of mercenaries with overinflated senses of ability, and misguided professional aspirations.

    All this being said, it's hard to forecast how much things would change with Kruger running the program. A change could be good. It's definitely not a situation where the Rebs are losing Coach K or Billy Donovan or an up and comer like Butler or VCU's coaches.

    Now we shall see.

  53. The fan base seems to push Reggie Theus as the candidate for the job. Since the Mountain West seems to be intent on being a smaller player (TV deal, etc.), I'd say look at a mid-major coach with a track record. Gregg Marshall of Wichita State University would be a good candidate.

  54. Glad to hear Reggie Theus has a degree. He seems very well-spoken and intelligent. That would've surprised me. But if he didn't I'm sure the powers-that-be could've gotten him an "honorary" degree somewhere.

  55. You got to believe Rice would jump at this job. I have total faith in Rice as a coach. He's paid his dues and was basically a head coach at BYU anyway. His title was ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH with Rose. Go get em.

  56. Ryan,
    Don't play us like this. April Fools right? Oh dear god please...

  57. David Rice was an assistant at UNLV many years before Kruger got here. We didn't win with him then. I think Rose is the reason BYU is doing so well.

  58. Why does this have to be on April 1???

  59. Mike Sandford strikes again.... our football program cannot make enough bread to keep us competitive in basketball. No bueno. Hope our current recruits hold to their commitments.

  60. Thanks for your time here, Mr. Kruger.

    Now - NEXT!

  61. LOL, what was that about "amateur" sports again?

    College sports fans need to wake up.

  62. Hire David Rice!!!

  63. Rice is the brains behind the BYU program. The x and o guy. The Rhodes Scholar!

  64. Both have their positives and negatives but Theus showed his recruiting prowess getting Herb Pope to come from the east coast to New Mexico State. He is the guy who will do the things we all want. Press defense, run and gun offense, and land more top 100 players to elevate the program. Great opportunity for Lon and a great one for us Runnin' Reb fans too!

  65. David Rice minus Jimmer Fredette = an also ran Mountain West team.

  66. Dave Rice was mostly a director of operations most of his time at UNLV, only a true assistant for part of it. As soon as BYU promoted Rice to assistant head coach, the offensive became much more explosive. They all of a sudden was able to turn a bunch of moderately athletic big men into a run and gun team that could really run the break.
    Long run I think Theus would be a better recruiter. He has more charisma like a coach Calipari. Rice might help with some Gordon kids, but I don't know much past that. I would be happy with either guy.
    I think Paul Hewitt would be a good candidate, he could really recruit, but no Pat Knight. He was pretty bad in his stint at Tech.

  67. Okay, let's move forward with shutting down the basketball program at UNLV along with baseball, football and all other sports. There is no funding to continue it since Brian Sandoval does not want to raise needed revenue.

  68. I guess its final, seriously - I'm going through all the stages and it being April Fool's day didnt help either.....

    This isn't the way the Rebels should be in the news this deep into the tournament.
    - www.RebelReign.com

  69. And Rice won't be as expensive as other coaches. A big consideration these days....

  70. I'm not sure Dave Rice would be a good fit with UNLV. How many inner city kids did he bring into Provo, granted it was Provo. But could he recruit well enough at UNLV. We don't want a white UNLV team. Theus sounds like the man for me.

  71. UNLV's uncertain situation with State Government, Livengood starting to ask questions about how to take the program to the next level and now we have this.

    USA Today published NCAA Tourney Coaches salaries yesterday, Kruger was not hurting he was well on par with other top programs. Interesting how he was making more money that Mark Few at Gonzaga - which program would you want to have?

    Dave Rice is not the guy for UNLV, maybe for a BYU. Reggie Theus would die for this job and would recruit high school talent that we have not seen since Tark left. As far as the we cant get anyone as good as Kruger, sorry but his other programs that he left found solutions. This was a program within an eyelash of Pitino not so long ago. To compare Kruger to Tark, sorry Tark did not have a Thomas & Mack and other facilities, as well as a tournament resume and producer of NBA talent. Kruger had all of this.

    Bennett at St Marys, Ernie Kent of Oregon, Bruce Pearl (only if he does not have to sit out a year), Mack at Xavier - sorry but all have resumes on the college level to match Kruger's while at UNLV. I am sure that we will see suprise big names that would be thrilled about an UNLV interview. If you want to hire Peck as an Assistant Coach or even Stacey as an Assistant (the guy is an NBA Assistant Coach now) - it could lead to some really great things. Outside of Steve Henson, can anyone name a UNLV Assistant Coach? No suprise AM 1100 did not even talk about this, they were off watching ESPN to talk about some national story anyway.

    The team has not been a true team for several years now and their style has not been about up tempo play. High School recruits have fallen to the wayside as transfers from other programs have taken their place. No NBA draft choices. There are choices be it Shaka Smart or one of these other names. Dave Rice needs to show he can be a Head Coach at a lessor conference first, Theus has already done this.

    Kruger deserves praise for being a first class person doing his best to bring about excitement to this program. People wanted to see this program be more than just getting an NCAA invite. I dont think people wanted to run him out of town.

    Kruger will have this same pressure at Oklahoma. Livengood gets to have his own guy and from watching Sean Miller take Arizona deep, he can only hope he hits another home run here. Getting high school stars like Shabaz has to be paramount and not watching kids from Findlay leave for Texas and other schools annually.

    Someone will be getting a prime job, Paul Hewitt and Pat Knight need not apply. Lorenzo Romar, Jamie Dixon and Greg Marshall absolutely.

  72. It ALWAYS hurts to lose a Lon Kruger.
    Best of luck, Lon.
    Rebel fans; This is NOT GOOD, no matter how you spin it.

  73. Rebel fans, change is good. Maybe UNLV won't be one-and-done two years running.

    NEXT!

  74. Lon Kruger called: said he didn't want to coach at a school without a Philosophy Department.

  75. "If UNLV lands Dave Rice, consider Shabazz Muhammad coming to play for the Rebels a very, very strong possibility." - Ryan Greene

    I'm not sure that adds up, how well do these guys know his brother? Likely not at all, probably a lot of 'my brother said that Jimmer ....' conversations, but beyond that?

    It's an interesting point to talk about but I don't think its a push in UNLV's favor.

    Also, I don't think Findlay Prep's coach is ready for a D1 powerhouse like UNLV, I have serious doubts that his success there translates into the ability to recruit or coach D-1 style of play.
    www.RebelReign.com

  76. Nice Job Ryan for getting all of the love from ESPN's site. Now lets try to show the national audience that UNLV can not be serious to hire a Coach who has only been an Assistant Coach at BYU just because he has UNLV ties.

    When Fresno State is looking at Wayne Tinkle of Montana, Theus and Larry Krystowiak. Even Lawrence Frank's name is getting some run. But, not even a Big Sky school is considering Dave Rice. Nice guy and yes he stashed Tavenari away at Gorman for BYU. But, he cant be mentioned at a program that is paying more for Kruger than Mark Few gets at Gonzaga.

    Congrats for staying on top of this.

  77. I can't believe a basketball program with national relevance is talking about hiring an assistant. Hiring an assistant is what you do if you are in the MAC or the Sun Belt. UNLV is a great job, and there should be coaches out there who want this job.

    Having played at UNLV should not be the #1 requirement. Theus is a re-tread who cashed in his ticket to get paid by the NBA. No thanks. This other guy from BYU? Just because he has a hook-up at Gorman doesn't mean those kids are going to play here. They will play at TOP programs. Texas, Duke, UCONN, etc. UNLV is not that.

    Hiring an assistant coach, no matter his pedigree or who he knows, is a bad decision.

  78. rbutler, this basketball program, with its national relevance, belongs to a school in poor financial shape. Which head coach do you propose UNLV go after that will come for what we can pay?

    BTW, everyone starts as an assistant. To name a few, Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Bill Self, and John Calipari all started as assistants.

    Dave Rice makes sense. It goes beyond his ties to UNLV.

    - UNLV can afford him.
    - He's in charge of BYU's recruiting and their offense...two areas we've needed to improve.
    - UNLV is probably not a stepping stone for him (as it would likely be for any big-time head coach). This would be a destination for Rice...he's seen how sweet it can be here.
    - The local, and western ties will be good for recruiting (he'd been hot on the trail of Dantley Walker, for instance).

  79. Please hire Reggie Theus.

  80. Thank you, coach Kruger, you've done an awesome job at UNLV. And having discussed it with my old buddy, the "Banana_Joe", he completely agreed.

    Regards
    Chuck

  81. Wow! Wow. Freaking Wow. I'm so conflicted right now Im not sure what to do so I think I'll do all the things in one post.
    Thanks Lon, you came in at the tail end of a real **it storm and calmed the seas and reestablished a sense of pride that had been badly beaten down both on the floor of the Thomas&Mack and in the stands. Thanks second best coach ever.
    Thanks to all you sorry a**ed fans that have for the better part of 3 decades used your whiny cries to chase out first Jerry Tarkanian and now Lon Kruger, you are if nothing, consistent in your distaste for men capable of delivering 20+ Wins every year. Tradition wreckers. Its funny but I remember as the T&M was being built the calls for the head of a man that delivered 2 Sweet16 and 1 Final Four in the first three years here at UNLV. I remember '78-'82, every year Tark getting close but no cigar, every year the perseverance of a man that allowed his own "fans" to brow beat him and his players every off-season. Tark would roll out and win a stay of execution from the rabble. Try this, the only reason you have a National Championship at UNLV is because a man persevered and had faith and convinced kids to buy into the community that was being built here. Then aknowldge you just chased of a man who isn't leaving your cupboards bare, hasnt spoken the unspeakable "its just a game" as Rollie "The Eastcoast Assassin" Massamino did. You have lived up to your abilities to be oh so ungrateful to someone who delivered more opportunities then even Coach Tark did in the same amount of time. Then try this just for a change, allow the next guy to experience something that has been missing in Las Vegas and UNLV for the last 35 years, some Grace and Mercy, allow them the opportunity to deliver us some surprises. Rebel fans overblown expectations is so tedious, tiresome and obnoxious to the rest of the basketball world. Try instead remembering when we were the VCU and the Butlers of college basketball and how exiting it was to be there, to build something from nothing. Then remember you just chased off a guy that was trying his best to deliver just that "atmosphere", instead he just didnt have the perseverance of a Jerry Tarkanian and as we all know those are just laying around everywhere.

  82. Finally to UNLV, seems like everytime money gets tight and ego's get bruised up there on Maryland Pkwy that old dog and pony show of "Education vs Athletics" gets trotted out with some new sexy lipstick and you pit those that would have extremism take root against each other. "Do away with all of college athletics" they'll scream with torches in hand, "Screw the NCAA and education..." they'll retort with Dollars thrust into the hands of kids as they come off the court. What are you guys doing up there (both administration and boosters)? Why is it so hard to get along, why is it so extreme? 20 years it took to get athletics almost independent at UNLV again please for the love of god do NOT tear this up and start another 20 year journey. Men with the perseverance of a sacrificial lamb or a Saint are in very short supply if you haven't noticed. Get it "TOGETHER" guys, give the fans that are still here something to rally around. Do it or just let this joke be over and lets kick Northern Arizona and Southern Utah and Dixie State College's asses and give up the mockery of D-1 athletics in Las Vegas.

  83. 75k/yr max for a new coach

  84. Unconscionable cretins salivating over odds and
    pointspreads,
    Choosing the path over the muck and mire,
    rather than higher ground,
    Where the view might reveal more fertile lands.

  85. This has got to be an April Fool's joke...

  86. Who cares?

  87. The bottom line is that a bunch of backwards leaning country folks flat out stole our coach. That's as nice as I can say it. I'm not happy.

  88. Well it looks like someone left Las Vegas to get a job - oh, he already had one - well that makes opportunities for others for a Nevada school which might close because of Republicrat policies. Good luck to you, Lon!

  89. Rice, Rice, Rice..Theus-Really? One year at New Mexico and left baggage behind. Unsuccessful head NBA coach and now he's sitting on the the lowly Timberwolves bench as a buddy and assistant to Rambis? Wow. Rice has been an assistant at UNLV, and has been the associate head coach at a successful BYU program for years. Who would know more about the goings on at UNLV and Vegas and know exactly what the Mountain West is all about? A quality, intelligent man. A Rhoads scholar. His brother coaches at Gorman. He played for Tark and won a championship with the Rebs. ETC ETC. So he hasn't been a head coach yet? Who cares! Every head coach gets a start somewhere. Mark Few was an assistant for years at Gonzaga. Dave Rose coached at lowly Dixie and Byu-hawaii. Come on that's lame. He'd perfect. Let Theus stay with the Wolves. He's a sexier name than Rice, but that's all. We don't want recruiting trash here. Rice will get us quality people and players. Remember it was Rice who found Jimmer when no one else wanted him. Who won the MW this year and went farther in the tourny? Not UNLV. BYU with Rice.

  90. snyderm -

    Boosters pay a coach, it doesn't all come out of the state budget. Also, UNLV Basketball MAKES money for the university. Paying a coach is not a bad idea if it creates more revenue.

    Sure, everybody starts as an assistant, at a smaller school. Also, for every assistant you listed that "made it", I can list 20 that flamed out. It's not a sure thing, in fact, it's the exact opposite. UNLV should be hiring a proven commodity, not somebody who's been in the game a few short years, and hasn't run a program themselves. We run a great risk of having Rice flame out, and Kruger's 7 years of work going down the tube.

    Nobody thought Kruger would use this place as a stepping stone. Having played at UNLV before means nothing. When the deep pockets crew comes through, you have to listen. UNLV can't pony up the loot a Kentucky, or obviously an Oklahoma can, no matter the financial circumstances.

    I don't buy it. It's crap, and I'm shocked we'd consider an assistant. Bradley and Georgia State hired HEAD COACHES. Come on man.

  91. I guarantee the biggest boosters here love Dave Rice. You heard it here first.

  92. Nigel Williams-Goss youtube reaction video check it out. His dad said he wants "Mike Brown" former Cleveland Cavs HC. If we can keep Nigel's dad happy we can still keep Nigel's commitment to UNLV, One of the biggest reason for Nigel's commitment to the rebels is so other top prep players would come to unlv as well and buy in to the message that UNLV will once again be one of the feared teams in the nation

  93. Gee, I thought we had a money problem regarding education? Let us eliminate all the athletics at schools.

    Let them "privatize it." 2 million to ride heard on a bunch of "goons with balls."

  94. Goes to show money is everything with this coach. No loyalty to any of the schools he has coached at. For $2.5 million per year he had better get Oklahoma going pretty quick or they will run him out of town.

  95. Gentleman may be a fine fellow, but this is at least the second time a coach has presumably played off UNLV's pay offer to sqeeze a better offer from a school. Unfortunately many do, which is a commentary on how it works, but should also be a heads up to UNLV to bid higher if they want quality in demand.

  96. Livengood will not hire Theus. He applied for the Arizona job and got shot down. Rice is the next head coach.

  97. REBEL FANS GIVE YOURSELVES THE NEWS: Lon Kruger leaving town is all about the severity of proposed budget cuts. He couldn't swing a deal to pay his assistants what he believed they deserve; plus the overall cuts in Athletics will severely affect morale and limit recruiting, travel, and all kinds of areas essential to coaching a winning team.

    More important: UNLV's NCAA division 1 status is in doubt if the NSHE is forced to declare exigency (bankruptcy), which it very well might if Governor Sandoval has his way. If that happens, get ready to say good-bye to the Runnin' Rebels except as bush league teams.

    If you care about the future of NCAA athletics at UNLV, please write and call your legislators: ask them not to "sunset" the 2009 tax add-on (this won't raise taxes, only keep current revenues in place). Make your voices heard.

    And if you feel you should ask more (as do almost all economists who have studied our state), lobby your legislators for modest tax increases: to cut deductions for mining, add to the tobacco and liquor taxes, and implement a 1% tax on services.

    These few very slight measures can save education at all levels plus basic services in our state, and can ensure the future of Athletics at UNR and UNLV. Or so let's hope.

    And thank you to Lon Kruger for giving us his best coaching efforts, including raising the graduation rates of our college athletes!

  98. Your right, Kruger did say the states financial system played a role. Too bad

  99. I trust Livengood to make to make a good hiring decision, he made one before he left AZ, he made one in hiring Bobby Hauck, I believe he will do it again. We all might be surprised who is the next coach here. I dont think D. Rice is the right fit, he wouldn't recruit the right kind of players for UNLV & could not connect with inner city kids from around America. He's perfect for BYU not UNLV. Its going to be an interesting few weeks for UNLV but I think its best in the longrun.

  100. You hit the nail on the head Douglas Unger. Funny that all the naysayers who, just weeks ago, argued that UNLV athletics and academics weren't related are now very, very quiet. I said it before, but it's worth repeating: if Sandoval gets his way, this is just the beginning of the kind of mass defections that will leave UNLV a shell of an insitution with no credibility, and no Div I status.

  101. It is ALWAYS about the money.

  102. UNLV should of jacked up the buy out. Put it at a couple million.

  103. Allright Rebels fans........this is the deal.......Kruger has reached a ceiling at UNLV and the whispers were getting louder every year that a "change" needed to be made.......UNLV may not be UCLA or North Carolina but the banners from the past years of greatness (1990,1991 etc) still hang at the Thomas and Mack Arena! The city and the alumni and backers are not satisfied with sweating out a 8 seed or worse year after year and then exiting early in the NCAA tournament year after year! (only one round of 16 appearance) Losses to Northern Iowa and Illinois for example.....also UNLV can't beat San Diego State or BYU and struggles with air force and Colorado State??......lol.....plus the guy (Kruger) is risk averse on some recruits......he even was losing local talent to other schools (ex..San Diego St..BYU etc...) Also this team can't seem to shoot well or execute a offense properly when it counted!.....They defend well at times.....but at other times could not get stops when it counts!.......year after year the public hoped for more but always were left dissappointed at the end......good luck to Kruger in his new post, he did restore some hope to UNLV basketball and kept the program away from major NCAA violations and troubles.........lol

  104. Reggie! Reggie! Reggie!

    This guy is immensely talented, is a great recruiter, has NBA credibility (which his players will love), and wants this job more than anything else in the world. He'll come here, build a better program, and won't leave for anything.

    Reggie Theus. Please.

  105. Ryan tweeted Larry Johnson wants the job also.

  106. UNLV has the sweat equity spent for Jerry Tarkanian to be more than just a simple basketball program. The hoops program brought students to UNLV a school without any type of on campus experience no greek row, no campus college experience. Now we are talking about new arenas, new basketball facilities in a time when we already beat most schools in facilities for hoops. College basketball is the easiest sport to create change. UNLV can hire a Pearl, Ernie Kent, Romar, Marshall, Tubby and even Theus with a bench made up of a Sidney Green and Grant Rice. The legacy has been made, greatness shown and attitude of taking on anyone at any time anywhere. Lon has set us up for the next stage taking it to the next level. Dave Rice is not mentioned at Eastern Washington or Fresno State for their next Head Coach so why would he be mentioned at UNLV. The program can blast off with a new Coach anaad we can value what Livengood is worth based on this hire. Theus did not leave a mess at New Mexico State, only a winning program. He can recruit NBA talent to UNLV and we all will be happy. The days of watching Shabazz and Findlay Prep players leave for other programs can end with him or a proven D1 Coach. Lon will face an OU fan base who will want him to win right away. He will once again go after transfers and not high school recruits and they will see the lack of leadership that this creates.

    No to Dave Rice, yes to Theus or a proven D1 Coach.

  107. Im from E Wash. They hired Whitworths coach.

  108. Can we play some zone D now?

    Please Hire Reggie

  109. Hire Theus. Good bye Lon- enjoy the basement at OU. You sucked eggs here. Maybe Lon can get his son an extra year of eligiblity at OU... LMAO.

  110. Oklahoma will struggle as Kruger's inability to understand the role of a good big man in college basketball will constantly frustrate their, "best recruiting years ever". Kruger did a great job of bringing the image of integrity back to the program. For that, we are grateful. However, he couldn't recruit a real winning team. That is evident. Unfortunately, he made promises to the community that he has turned his back on.

    With all the struggles our higher education system is having, I only hope they don't rest on their laurels and recruit a morally bankrupt coach with a history of troubles as a quick fix. We need to make sure we have a program with no baggage. A Rhodes Scholar that knows how this city works would be a great choice.