Former Lady Rebels coach interested in returning

Jim Bolla led the UNLV women’s basketball program to its highest heights, and now he wants the chance to try to do it again.

But athletic department officials did not include Bolla among the approximately 16 preliminary interviews they conducted at the women’s Final Four, which concluded Tuesday night in Tampa, Fla.

“I’ve applied for the job, and I want the job,” said Bolla, who just completed his fourth season at Hawaii, where he is 56-57.

UNLV athletic director Mike Hamrick said he did not want to comment because “we’re in the middle of this search, and I don’t want to compromise any of the candidates.”

Bolla coached the Lady Rebels from 1982 to 1996, going 300-120, though he shared coaching duties the first six seasons with Sheila Strike. As the lone coach the final eight seasons, Bolla oversaw a program that made four NCAA Tournaments, with a Sweet 16 appearance in 1989, and ranked as high as No. 2 in the 1989-90 season.

Donya Monroe, who played at UNLV from 1982 to 1986 and owns a financial management firm in Las Vegas, said she has talked to former standouts Misty Thomas and Pauline Jordan, who want Bolla to be at least considered.

“We feel this is an opportunity to bring in somebody who recognizes the past is part of the present,” Monroe said.

“I think we need to get this program back to where we’re consistently going to the NCAAs and winning more than 20 games. I think we can do that again.”

Two sources close to the search, who requested anonymity because the candidates have not been publicly identified, said among those interviewed at the Final Four were UC Riverside coach John Margaritis, South Florida coach Jose Fernandez, New Mexico assistant Yvonne Sanchez, UCLA assistant Maylana Martin Douglas and Virginia assistant Curtis Loyd.

UNLV also interviewed a top assistant for one of the Final Four teams, according to one of the sources, who did not identify the coach.

The source also said there is early mutual interest between UNLV and former Lady Rebels standout Kathy Olivier, who spent the past 15 seasons as UCLA’s coach.

On-campus interviews are expected to be conducted late this week and next week.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at or 702-387-2914.

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