Dick Vitale says Rick Pitino is not coming to UNLV

Unfortunately, another day passed without a news conference on the UNLV campus to announce Rick Pitino as the new basketball coach.

Instead, Dick Vitale was in Las Vegas to call a game on ESPN and, during a break in the action, explain why Pitino is not coming to town.

“I know there were rumors about Vegas. It’s not going to happen,” Vitale said Monday night from a courtside seat at the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. “There’s no doubt about it. Rick loves Louisville, and they love him.

“It was just a matter of him thinking about it, and I’m telling you he is staying there.”

When the Review-Journal reported Pitino’s interest in the Rebels’ job on Jan. 16, Vitale immediately responded on Twitter @DickieV:

“No way Rick Pitino will be the next coach of UNLV. I have a better chance of being a sex symbol in Hollywood!”

Vitale has not changed his tune. In the wake of another scandal, Pitino was noncommittal at times in recent weeks when asked about his future at Louisville. He seemed to leave the door cracked open. The curtain closed on the Cardinals’ season Saturday because of the school’s self-imposed postseason ban.

Vitale is not taking the Pitino-to-UNLV bait at all, but I don’t want to let this story die yet, so I went to Vitale’s broadcast partner, Brent Musburger, for support. Musburger said he thinks Pitino would be a great fit in Vegas, and he wants to see the Rebels recapture the glory days of the Jerry Tarkanian era.

Musburger and I agreed Pitino would be reinvigorated by the UNLV job and by being a star on The Strip. Vitale shot us down again.

“It’s not going to happen,” Vitale repeated.

And Vitale followed by saying, “Why don’t they call me up? I may come. I have a lot of vitality left. But I love what I’m doing. I never lose game, and I coach everybody in the country.

“I think it’s a great job for somebody. You have a beautiful arena, you’ve got a lot of excitement and it’s a place you can recruit to. I don’t think UNLV will have a problem getting a quality guy. I think the package is big enough that they can put together to get somebody of quality.”

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247

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