UNLV fires head coach Dave Rice

UNLV has fired head coach Dave Rice midway through his fifth season at the school, a source told CBS Sports on Sunday night.

School officials subsequently confirmed the report.

"Dave is not a quitter," said UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy. "We mutually agreed for him to step aside. I felt we needed to make a change. We expect to win here."

Rice, 47, was on his way to missing the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year when officials decided to remove him and make assistant Todd Simon, 35, the interim coach. The Runnin Rebels are 9-7 thanks to a three-game losing streak and despite the presence of a talented roster featuring McDonald's All-American Stephen Zimmerman.

A source told CBS Sports that relevant boosters were essentially behind the firing.

"The money-people are ready for a change," a source said. "That's why it happened now."

Rice, who was 95-54 at UNLV, took the Runnin' Rebels to the NCAA Tournament twice. But the UNLV graduate never advanced in the Field of 68, and his lack of success relative to the talent in place was always a point of frustration for supporters. Rice was previously an assistant at BYU.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal earlier reported the development.

"I want to thank Coach Rice for all of his efforts," said UNLV president Len Jessup. "Unfortunately, the results on the court did not reflect the passion and dedication he has for the program. Dave is a role model as a person who has demonstrated professionalism throughout his tenure. This was not an easy decision, but sometimes change is necessary."

Dave Rice (USATSI)
UNLV coach Dave Rice has been fired. (USATSI)
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Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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