Money was not what mattered most to Dave Rice when he resisted the temptation to leave UNLV. The details in his proposed new contract spell that out in black and white.
The promise of a slightly better deal was enough to convince Rice to return as the Rebels’ basketball coach.
“David had a great opportunity in front of him, and we really wanted to try to keep him,” UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said. “He’s not about money. It’s about moving forward.”
Rice made national news March 29 when he rejected South Florida’s reported six-year contract offer worth $1.3 million per year. He received a two-year extension through 2018-19, pending approval by the state Board of Regents, with no guarantee of a raise from UNLV.
The contract terms will be presented by Don Snyder, the school’s acting president, at a Board of Regents meeting April 25. Rice’s current contract has three years remaining at $700,000 per year.
His base salary of $300,000 can increase up to a maximum of $100,000. A Mountain West regular-season championship, outright or shared, would raise Rice’s base salary by $50,000, and he also could receive a $50,000 bump if the Rebels win the conference tournament and/or qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
The supplemental compensation in his current contract remains the same, as Rice can earn bonuses of $10,000 for Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles, $10,000 for being voted conference Coach of the Year, $25,000 for reaching the NCAA Tournament and $50,000 for each tournament win.
The contract buyout, if Rice leaves for another job, is $1 million as of March 31, 2015. That figure decreases by $250,000 for each of the next three years and is $125,000 in the final year.
Rice, a UNLV graduate and a reserve on the Rebels’ 1990 national championship team, has not won a Mountain West title or an NCAA Tournament game as a head coach. He has a record of 71-32 since being hired in April 2011.
The Rebels finished this season 20-13 and missed the postseason for the first time in Rice’s three years. But he attracted one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, and he said loyalty and a sense of unfinished business were factors in his decision.
“I’m excited about coaching this group, and I just look forward to having a good team,” Rice said. “I’m grateful to the administration for extending my contract and the message that sends to our returning players and recruits about our bright future. I did want to see through what we started.”
Rice hopes to create a special assistant to the head coach, add an academic adviser and use more chartered flights. But those are not in his contract, and funding would come through private donors.
Kunzer-Murphy said Snyder played an instrumental role in doing what it took to retain Rice, and she listened to public reaction when South Florida’s courtship of Rice was reported in the media.
“My phone was ringing off the hook, and it was all in support of David. Everybody rallied about David,” Kunzer-Murphy said. “We were all in favor of him being our coach, we didn’t want to lose him, and getting him set up for the next five years is really important.
“Don helped make this happen. Don said, ‘We want Dave to be our coach for the next 20 years.’ When you have an opportunity to look at your coach leave, you make some summations, and our decision was to keep David here. We know the best is yet to come.”
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.