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UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez to return next season

Updated November 29, 2018 - 7:05 pm

As expected, UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez will return for a fifth season, athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said Thursday morning.

Reed-Francois said in a statement that the decision was made in coordination with acting university president Marta Meana.

“We are looking forward to a successful 2019 football season, including bowl eligibility, continued improvement in the classroom and, as always, a positive student-athlete experience,” Reed-Francois said. “We have invested more resources than ever into the Rebel football program and will continue exploring every avenue to enable it to be competitive.”

Speculation intensified late in the season about Sanchez’s future, but the Rebels won two of their final three games, including 34-29 in Saturday’s finale over UNR.

They finished 4-8, giving the Rebels a 16-32 record under his watch. His 33.3 winning percentage is higher than the two coaches who preceded him.

Sanchez, 44, also led the fundraising effort for the construction of the $31 million Fertitta Football Complex, which is expected to be completed in the spring.

But the Rebels still haven’t reached a bowl under Sanchez. As Reed-Francois alluded to in her statement, making the postseason will be expected if Sanchez is to coach the team when it begins playing in the new Raiders stadium in 2020.

The Rebels play a more demanding schedule next season, with trips to Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Fresno State and UNR and home games against Boise State, San Diego State and Arkansas State.

Sanchez has three years remaining on his contract, which pays him $600,000 annually. He received a three-year contract extension in March 2017.

“I appreciate the support of our administration,” Sanchez said. “I thought that’s exactly the way it would come out. We’ve done a lot of great things to move this program forward. Obviously, there’s still some work to be done, but I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, which is evident, and excited to be moving forward with UNLV.”

Sanchez will meet with the media Friday morning to discuss in detail the season and his expectations for next year.

UNLV hired Sanchez from Bishop Gorman High School, where he went 85-5 from 2009 to 2014. The Gaels won the Class 4A state title each year and were named national champions in 2014.

More Rebels: Follow all of our UNLV coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Rebels and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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Las Vegas handicapper Bruce Marshall is an analyst at VegasInsider.com. He provides the Review-Journal with college football tech notes and trends.