Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, March 28, 2014 | 1:45 p.m.
The Rebels’ already-hectic offseason has been spent figuring out who will return next season. That speculation now includes coach Dave Rice.
Sources today confirmed a report that Rice has been offered the head coaching position at South Florida. He’s currently returning from an interview in Tampa, where he was offered a five-year deal for $1.2 million per season.
Rice wasn’t immediately available for comment. He has three years left on his contract at UNLV for $700,000 a year.
South Florida was ready to announce Manhattan coach Steve Masiello as its next coach until a background check revealed Masiello doesn’t have a college degree, despite his resume stating that he did. USF then turned a number of other places — there was rumored mutual interest between USF and New Mexico coach Craig Neal — before offering Rice the job in the last 24 hours.
The Rebels went 20-13 this season, missing the postseason for the first time in Rice’s three-year tenure. Overall, Rice has gone 70-31 with two NCAA Tournament appearances, a No. 1 NBA draft pick in Anthony Bennett and arguably the program’s best recruiting class ever coming in next year.
However, there’s been plenty of heat as well, and another year without an NCAA Tournament trip or a win once there could be trouble. Rice is also working for a different athletic director, Tina Kunzer-Murphy, than the one who hired him. Kunzer-Murphy took over in July after Jim Livengood’s departure.
If Rice were to leave, the Rebels would likely lose at least some of its recruiting class. Findlay Prep guard Rashad Vaughn was a late commit, so he still hasn’t signed and would be free to choose another school. Dwayne Morgan and Goodluck Okonoboh would have to be released from their letters of intent, but if Rice leaves, that seems likely.