Search Firm: Predicting UNLV’s Next Head Basketball Coach

Three years ago, UNLV had Chris Beard. Then Tubby Smith left Texas Tech for Memphis, and Beard’s stint in Vegas lasted less than two weeks before he went to Texas Tech. UNLV scrambled and wound up with New Mexico State’s Marvin Menzies, who brought a ton of mediocrity to the Runnin’ Rebels program before he was cut loose after just three seasons.

I’ve come up with my list of coaching candidates as I put myself in the role of Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois. We’ll do this for all the major job openings going forward.

Remember, check the bottom for who I WOULD HIRE and who I think UNLV will wind up hiring.


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When you have it rolling, UNLV is a terrific job. But it’s been a while since UNLV owned Vegas. Guys have had success but it’s been limited since Jerry Tarkanian owned the city. Since Tark left in 1991, UNLV has been to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament just once – under Lon Kruger.

It’s been a lot of mediocrity.

UNLV didn’t pay to land a big-name coach the last time around but that could change with this hire, especially if the right people get involved.


Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois (hired in June of 2017)

Basketball Hires: None


Rick Pitino He’s coaching in Greece now after being fired by Louisville two seasons ago and the question is who will roll the dice on hiring him with the NCAA’s investigation into Louisville still ongoing. Pitino is a Hall of Famer who is considered one of the elite coaches of all-time and would certainly create fan interest, as well as give UNLV a chance to be nationally relevant again.

Jason Kidd He was fired by the Bucks last year and would prefer to get back into the NBA. There’s speculation that he’s among the top candidates to take over the Lakers when Luke Walton is let go. If he can’t get an NBA gig, he could be in play here.

Ty Lue He lives in Vegas and like Kidd, he’s out of work and would prefer to get back in the league. But this would be a big enough name for Vegas – LeBron’s former coach.

Mike Miller The long-time NBA player is in his first season as a college assistant with Penny Hardaway at Memphis and he has the personality to be able to captivate a fan base.


Eric Musselman It’s way across the state but it’s hard for UNLV not to take notice of what Muss has done in Reno. He’s made hoops relevant while UNLV has been irrelevant. Musselman is on track to lead the Wolf Pack to their third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

Frank Martin, South Carolina Martin went to the NCAA Tournament four times in five years while at Kansas State and he took South Carolina to the Final Four in 2017. UNLV could use a big name and a big personality – Martin has both.

Kelvin Sampson, Houston He’s had success just about everywhere he’s been: Washington State, Oklahoma, Indiana and now he’s turned the program around at Houston.

Fred Hoiberg He joins the lengthy list of former NBA coaches who were fired, but the difference is that The Mayor had success in college at Iowa State.


Steve Alford He was fired at UCLA early this past season and would love to get back in. He’s familiar with the job from being in the league at New Mexico.

Nate Oats, Buffalo He’s done a terrific job since being elevated at Buffalo, as the Bulls are heading to their third NCAA Tournament in his tenure.

MY PICK: Frank Martin Vegas needs to go big and there aren’t many bigger, in terms of their personalities, than Martin. He had a ton of success at K-State and took South Carolina to the Final Four.

WHO I THINK THEY WILL WIND UP HIRING: Jason Kidd – Obviously, this one depends on who LeBron wants as the next coach of the Lakers. I’m going with Lue in a reunion with ‘Bron, which means Kidd becomes the frontrunner in Vegas.

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