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USF offers basketball job to UNLV's Dave Rice

TAMPA — March Madness is alive and well in the bay area after all and growing more maddening by the day. Case in point: USF's search for a basketball coach.

UNLV's Dave Rice, a backup guard on the Runnin' Rebels' 1990 national title team who has led his alma mater to three consecutive 20-win seasons, has been offered the USF coaching job.

"Dave does have a solid offer from South Florida," UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday night. "I really think that (today) we'll have it resolved."

Fox 5 KVVU-TV in Las Vegas said Rice confirmed off camera that he received an offer. The Review-Journal reported that Rice interviewed in Tampa and got the offer.

The offer includes a five-year contract at $1.2 million per year, the newspaper reported. Rice was believed to be meeting with Kunzer-Murphy late Friday.

USF officials, however, would not confirm the offer or convey the school's interest level in Rice. USF has hired a Texas-based search firm, Eastman & Beaudine, to vet candidates.

Rice, 45, has three years remaining on a deal that pays him $700,000 annually. He's seeking an extension for security reasons, not necessarily money, Review-Journal columnist Ed Graney reported Friday via Twitter.

However, Rice also is believed to be receptive to a fresh opportunity. Despite a 70-31 record and two NCAA Tournament berths, he has taken local heat at UNLV for minimal postseason success.

His first two squads lost in their NCAA Tournament openers, and this season's team (20-13) missed the postseason.

Nationally, Rice is highly respected in coaching circles and is considered an exceptional recruiter. If there's a tangible concern for Bulls fans, it's that he never has played for nor coached a team headquartered east of the Mountain time zone.

A proponent of an up-tempo style of play, Davis' first Rebels team led the Mountain West Conference in scoring (76.3 points per game), assists and steals. This past season's club averaged 71.4 points, leading the MWC in rebounding offense (39.8) and blocks (6.5).

His 2012 recruiting class, ranked seventh nationally by ESPN, included 6-foot-8 Anthony Bennett, the first overall pick in June's NBA draft. Rice's 2014 class is ranked 14th nationally by rivals.com.

Rice, a 1991 UNLV graduate and a married father of two boys, was a two-time recipient of the school's scholar-athlete of the year award and a Rhodes Scholar candidate.

USF is seeking a replacement for Stan Heath, fired two weeks ago after compiling a 97-130 record in seven seasons.

The school reached an agreement in principle earlier this week with Manhattan's Steve Masiello but nixed the deal upon learning he hadn't graduated from the University of Kentucky as his resume indicated.

Lakers' D'Antoni back to school? Marshall has reached out to one of its top alumni, Mike D'Antoni, to fill its coaching vacancy, according to cbssports.com. D'Antoni, 62, who is on the hot seat as coach of the NBA's Lakers, is a West Virginia native. He played for the Thundering Herd from 1970-1973. "I hear from them all the time," he said. "I'm the head of their capital (fundraising) campaign. I'm close friends to them. Whatever they need, I try to do. But … who knows."

Coppin State: Ron "Fang" Mitchell was fired after 28 seasons as coach. His record was 429-417, leading the Eagles to four NCAA Tournaments.

Ohio State: Forward LaQuinton Ross, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, is forgoing his senior season for the draft. Substitute guard Amedeo Della Valle said last week he was leaving after his sophomore season to play pro ball in Europe.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

USF offers basketball job to UNLV's Dave Rice 03/28/14 [Last modified: Saturday, March 29, 2014 12:41am]
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