LAS VEGAS - UNLV men’s basketball head coach Dave Rice has resigned his position and associate head coach Todd Simon will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season, Director of Athletics Tina Kunzer-Murphy announced Sunday.
“Earlier today I met with Dave Rice and after discussing the direction of our season, we mutually agreed that it was time for a change,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “Dave has had a great deal of success during his tenure as our head coach. He loves this University, this community and his players. He will always be a cherished member of the Runnin’ Rebel family and we are grateful for all he has done for this program. However, being winless in conference play and losing five of the last six games is simply not good enough for Runnin’ Rebel basketball.”
"I want to thank Coach Dave Rice for all of his efforts,” said UNLV President Len Jessup. “Unfortunately, the results on the court did not reflect the passion and dedication he has for the program. Dave is a role model as a person who has demonstrated professionalism throughout his tenure. This was not an easy decision but sometimes change is necessary to move forward."
Rice leaves ranked third on the UNLV chart for all-time head coaching victories with an overall record of 98-54, which includes 10 victories against ranked opponents.
“I am particularly proud of our accomplishments, not only on the court, but also academically and in recruiting,” Rice said. “It has been a great honor to coach at my alma mater and I wish the players, the coaches, the University, the program and the fans the very best as they move forward.”
Rice was in the middle of his fifth year as head coach at UNLV. In 2011, he returned to the school where he was part of the 1990 National Championship team as a player, was a Rhodes Scholar candidate while earning his bachelor’s degree in political science (UNLV ‘91), earned his master’s of business administration (UNLV ‘93) and served as a Runnin’ Rebel assistant coach for 11 seasons (1991-92 & 1994-2004). Every scholarship senior in the program under Rice went through graduation.
Rice, who had three years after this one on his contract, will receive the remainder of his base salary.
“We have student-athletes who I know will work through this period of adversity and help turn things around under the staff’s leadership,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “We still have 15 games and the conference tournament on our schedule – there is a lot left to play for this season – and I expect Todd and the staff to work tirelessly to get our season back on track. Once the season concludes, we will conduct a thorough review of the program and determine how best to move forward with the head coach position.”
Simon is in his third season on the staff and his first as associate head coach. He returned to campus after spending seven years with the area’s elite Findlay Prep program, including the last year as its head coach. He also had a previous stint with the Runnin' Rebels as he was a video assistant from 2004-06 under Lon Kruger before joining the Pilots. A 2003 graduate of Central Michigan, Simon, 35, earned his master’s from UNLV in 2010.