Arizona associate head coach Joe Pasternack has emerged as a significant candidate for the UNLV basketball job, a source said Friday.
The source didn’t want to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject, but the person has insight into the search process.
UNLV president Len Jessup is believed to have a significant role in the search. He was at Arizona from 2011 to 2014, serving as dean of the Eller College of Management, before taking over at UNLV.
Jessup also will have a decision to make regarding athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy, whose contract is up at the end of this year. He will have to either extend her contract or look for another athletic director, throwing even more uncertainty into the mix of looking for a coach.
When asked earlier this week about his role in the coaching search and about Kunzer-Murphy, Jessup responded in an email: “We have high expectations for UNLV athletics, as strong athletics programs enhance the overall university experience and energize the community. I have a great working relationship with Tina and appreciate her passion for UNLV and her commitment to our student-athletes.
“Runnin’ Rebels basketball is a brand name in college athletics. Tina and I have had initial conversations about the vacancy and will continue the discussion as we move forward to identify the next head coach of UNLV men’s basketball. Simultaneously, we are also focused on this year’s team and season.”
Todd Simon took over as the interim coach when Dave Rice was fired on Jan. 10. The Rebels, who play at UNR on Saturday, are 3-0 under Simon, who also is believed to be a serious candidate for the job.
Pasternack has been at Arizona since May 2011 and has been a major reason why the Wildcats have had five consecutive top-10 recruiting classes. Arizona and UNLV compete against each other in recruiting.
In working under coach Sean Miller, Pasternack has been a part of three Sweet 16 appearances and two in the Elite Eight.
But Pasternack also has been part of some controversy. In February 2012, he kicked California’s Jorge Gutierrez, causing him to fall into the bench. Pasternack said he didn’t intentionally kick the player.
Before coming to Arizona, Pasternack was the head coach at the University of New Orleans for four seasons. He got his start in college basketball as a manager under Bob Knight and graduated from Indiana in 1999.
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