Stacey Augmon wanted to be UNLV’s next men’s basketball head coach.
Yes, Augmon, 45, interviewed for the position, which ultimately went to the well-traveled Chris Beard. But for Augmon, it was a bitter disappointment as he was bypassed for someone with one year’s head-coaching experience at the Division I level and has no ties to the university or the community.
On Monday, there was silence from Augmon. He did not return phone calls or text messages seeking comment on being snubbed.
Max Good, who spent the last two years with Augmon as a member of former coach Dave Rice’s staff, said he was sad to see the UNLV legend passed over.
“He had the respect of all the players and when he spoke, they listened,” Good said. “Was he ready to be a head coach? Absolutely. He would have been tremendously demanding, both on and off the court.
“But when you’re an assistant, you serve at the pleasure of the head coach so Stacey couldn’t always say what he wanted to because he had tremendous loyalty and respect for David.”
Augmon’s snub could result in a lot of former Rebels keeping their distance from the program.
“It’s a sad day for Rebel basketball,” said Evric Gray, who was Augmon’s teammate on the 1991 Final Four team that went 34-1 and lost to Duke in the national semifinals. “I’ve talked to at least 10 former players the last couple of days and they’re all down on the school.
“The administration had no idea what they’re doing. (Athletic director) Tina (Kunzer-Murphy) had no clue how to do a search. All they did was alienate all the former players.”
The ad, which ran March 13 and was paid for by “Rebels for Success,” had quotes from both Larry Johnson and Greg Anthony.
“Stacey is an obvious choice,” Johnson said. “You can’t put a value on what Stacey Augmon means to UNLV, but more than that, and more importantly, he knows the game as well as anyone.”
Added Anthony: “No player has had more impact on UNLV basketball than Stacey Augmon. Period. The end. He symbolizes what the program is all about. I have the utmost respect for him as a human being and can’t think of a stronger person to go into homes of prospective student-athletes and sell UNLV to parents. More importantly, he knows the game as well as anyone.”
Neither Johnson nor Anthony could be reached for further comment on Monday.
Augmon interviewed two weeks ago with the three-person committee of UNLV president Len Jessup, Kunzer-Murphy and UNLV basketball legend and current radio analyst Robert Smith.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Augmon made a compelling case in his interview. However, he did not meet one of the main criteria for the job — head-coaching experience at Division I — something both finalists Beard and New Mexico State head coach Marvin Menzies had.
Menzies withdrew his name after he learned on Sunday the Rebels were leaning toward Beard.
When Jerry Tarkanian was forced to resign following the 1991-92 season, it created a divide between the program’s former players and the school. It took years to rebuild the players’ trust in the university as subsequent coaches reached out to the alumni only to be rebuffed for the most part.
When Rice was hired in 2011, one of his first moves was to hire his old teammate Augmon, then a player development coach with the Denver Nuggets. It was hailed as an excellent move both by former players and fans.
However, when Rice was unable to produce more success with the program and was fired on Jan. 10, Todd Simon, not Augmon was named the Rebels’ interim head coach. It caused problems both inside and outside the program. Simon went 9-8 while in charge and recently was hired as coach at Southern Utah.
As for Augmon, his options are open. He could return to the NBA or hook on with another college coaching staff. But it’s unlikely he’ll remain at his alma mater because Beard is expected to bring in his own staff.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj