Kruger agrees to extension with UNLV through 2012

Any doubts about coach Lon Kruger’s future disappeared last month, when he stuck to his word and stayed at UNLV. He reaffirmed his commitment Tuesday by agreeing to a two-year contract extension.

According to a source familiar with negotiations, Kruger’s new deal runs through 2012. Financial terms were unavailable.

Kruger, 64-34 in three years with the Rebels, guided the team to a 30-7 record this past season.

UNLV reached the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 for the first time in 16 years, and Kruger was rumored to be a top candidate for several coaching openings across the country.

“I was not interested in going anywhere else,” Kruger said.

UNLV athletic director Mike Hamrick said it is “inappropriate to discuss details” of Kruger’s extension because it must be approved by the Board of Regents at a meeting June 21 in Reno.

“Even at this point it’s not done,” Kruger said. “There’s nothing official.”

Kruger earned $824,500 in his third season with the Rebels. His salary included $75,000 in bonuses for qualifying for the NCAA Tournament and winning two games.

The source said Kruger, who had three years remaining on his contract, is set to receive a significant pay raise if the extension is approved, as expected.

“I confirm that a contract extension with Coach Kruger has been agreed upon in principle,” said Hamrick, who declined to elaborate.

Kruger said there were no hang-ups in his talks with Hamrick about the details of the new contract.

“It was straightforward and it was simple,” Kruger said. “There’s nothing different.”

UNLV won the Mountain West Conference Tournament in March and followed that achievement by defeating Georgia Tech and Wisconsin in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

After the Rebels were eliminated by Oregon in the Sweet 16, Kruger said he “absolutely” planned to return next season. Media reports linked his name to several coaching openings, the most prominent being Michigan.

Kruger loses five seniors and returns a young team next season, but he said the potential is there for another successful year.

The top returning players will be junior guard Wink Adams, sophomore point guard Marcus Lawrence, senior guard Curtis Terry, junior forward Joe Darger and sophomore center Matt Shaw.

Lamar Roberson, a transfer from Houston, will be eligible as a sophomore and is expected to fill departing senior Wendell White’s spot at small forward. Redshirt freshman guard Troy Cage has showed promise in practices this season.

“It’s a real exciting young group,” Kruger said. “How quickly we mature and how quickly we mesh together, that’s always tough to anticipate.”

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