Kruger leaves UNLV 

Runnin’ Rebels head coach accepts Oklahoma contract

Basketball. Photo by Kent Buenaventura | The Rebel Yell

April 1 is a day when pranks are consistently pulled, but the only people who were fooled this year were those who thought Lon Kruger would be coaching UNLV next season.

Kruger accepted the head coaching job at Oklahoma. He reportedly signed a $16 million deal for a seven-year coaching period.

“Lon Kruger helped to redefine UNLV basketball, both locally and nationally,” said UNLV Athletic Director Jim Livengood in a UNLV press release. “What he accomplished in his seven seasons in Las Vegas will benefit UNLV and this community for years to come.”

In the last seven years at UNLV, Kruger has built back the tradition that the school had when Jerry Tarkanian was here. In the 2009-10 season, UNLV was ranked No. 18 in the nation in attendance and No. 1 on the West Coast.

“It’s been a pleasure working with … Kruger,” said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. “He’s one of the finest people I know. He’s really elevated the UNLV basketball team. We are going to miss him, and we wish him luck in the future.”

During his tenure at UNLV, Kruger made four NCAA tournament appearances, including a run to Sweet 16 in 2007. His final record at UNLV was 161-71, but the Rebels were 127-44 in the last five seasons. He returns to the Big 12 conference, where he previously coached the Kansas State Wildcats from 1986-90 when they competed in the Big 8 conference.

UNLV now must begin the process of finding a new head coach for the men’s basketball team. Rumors have surfaced that BYU’s associate head coach Dave Rice and Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach Reggie Theus are among those being considered for the job

Whoever takes over the helm for the program will have the majority of a tournament team, which finished 24-9, returning from last season. UNLV only lost two seniors who saw significant minutes, in Tre’Von Willis and Derrick Jasper.

Contact Sage Sammons at [email protected]