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Transcript - Monday, April 11, 2011

UNLV President Dr. Neal Smatresk

I think that all of you know it's a special moment in UNLV Runnin' Rebel basketball history when we get to announce a new head coach for the basketball team, and I'm just honored to be here and to support our athletics director and all of the fans that are here, and I'm just as happy as I can be with the selection we are making. Right time, right place, right person.


UNLV Director of Athletics Jim Livengood

My remarks will be very brief as they should. This is really about Dave Rice, I think if we could put a label on this, a Rebel comes home. We had four outstanding candidates, and I want to thank Ernie Kent, Mike Dunlap and Reggie Theuss for being part of the process. At the end of the process, I think any of the four would have been an excellent selection as our head coach, but one was chosen.

What started in Claremont, California in 1983, that'll scare you a little bit David, as a high school player at Claremont High has now taken the final turn to UNLV. Now let me share with you a little bit about what transpired. Dave Rice is the right person for the right time for UNLV basketball, on so many different levels. Everyone I talked to in the industry, and in industry I mean college basketball and the basketball word, raved about his work ethic, raved about his ability to make things happen and in the right way, he epitomizes what a student-athlete experience is all about, and certainly the experience at UNLV is all about. He was a Rhodes Scholar candidate, has his MBA from UNLV, and tremendous ties to the prep level and top-level recruits. He comes from a great Runnin' Rebel tradition, and is passionate about this city, about this university, and about this program. Simply put, he is the right person at the right time. Most importantly, he has a vision on how to keep this program growing, he has a vision on how to take this program to even more success on a national level, he has a plan to build a great staff, he understands recruiting locally, he understands recruiting in California, and he understands recruiting in the West.

There are a lot of reasons to select Dave, and this is about selecting Dave, but simply, I think probably four or five would fit right now. Number one, I think he is the right fit. Two, he has an outstanding coaching resume. His leadership qualities are second to none. He has a passion for the game, and a passion for UNLV. Extreme passion, and maybe this is perhaps the key, passion for his players. Last night's team meeting was really symbolic in a lot of ways. It was Dave's first time to be with this Rebel basketball team, and these young men that are coming back, and I was impressed with a lot of things, as I have been during this process, but the thing that stood out last night was everything was about them. Not about him, but about them. Everything was about the team, and he must have said that about 15 times, maybe only 12. In 30 years as a Division I AD, I have never been around anyone more prepared to take the next step as a head coach, and I mean that. Dave has prepared many years for this moment and for today. I think one of the many characteristics that stood out, and I mentioned this to the players, this is very simple. This is about UNLV, and about Rebel basketball, and not about Dave, and yet, this day is about Dave.

I would like to thank Mindy and Travis, Dylan's not here, Dylan's doing some swimming right now as second graders should be doing on this momentous day. Mindy and Travis, thanks for allowing your husband and father to come to UNLV and to come to Las Vegas. We're not going to get into contractional things for the media we'll talk later and answer all kinds of questions, but most of that will come out and we'll release it and it'll be very open in terms of the early part of next week, probably as soon as Monday. But let me now welcome you to our new head basketball coach at UNLV. Please help me to welcome David coming home. Dave Rice. 


UNLV head men's basketball coach Dave Rice

Thank you first of all to the president, to athletics director Jim Livengood, and to the regents that are here. This is a great day for our family, but more important, it is a great day for the Runnin' Rebel family.

I was speaking with Stacey Augmon earlier, and I said I don't know why I'm the one, I'm excited about it, we're excited about it, but one thing I do know is that this is about the Runnin' Rebels. This is about the great former coaches, this is about all the great former players, many of whom are here today. And the one thing our staff will always remember, our players will always be reminded of is that it's about the Runnin' Rebels, so we're excited.

1989 - 22 years ago, Coach Tarkanian gave me an opportunity to come to UNLV as a scholarship player, he gave me the opportunity to come and be a part of two Final Fours, and to win a national championship. And even more than that, he gave me the opportunity to develop the kind of camaraderie with the teammates that I played with. Last year when we had the 20th anniversary celebration and all the guys were there, it wasn't just about the championships, and coach Tarkanian always used to talk about we don't talk about winning, we talk about relationships and we talk about being together. And that is what it was like and we hadn't missed a beat, and it was such a special night, that night.

For me, it was even more than that, and UNLV became the greatest decision I ever made. It was the faculty members, it was the political science degree, it was later a master's degree in business administration, it was being on campus with so many wonderful faculty members that I developed lifelong relationships with that have such a profound effect on my life. And then after I was done playing, the loss to Duke was fresh in my mind, I had taken the LSATs, I was going to law school, and coach Tarkanian, in his infinite wisdom, came to me and said you know what Dave? I'm going to have a spot on my staff, I really see something about you, I think you can be a coach. My dad was a long-time high school coach, a really important person in my life, but I never really thought about coaching. And coach Tark came to me and he said, you know what, I really think you can become a great coach one day. And so I went ahead and stayed on his staff, and here we are, 20 years later, almost to the day I'm standing here, and I'm humbled because coach Tarkanian is right here, and I have the job he had, and that makes all the difference for those of us that have been Runnin' Rebels.

He gave me my start in coaching and I've always said that the reason why I coach is coach Tark, but it's also because of Coach Grg, and we know Coach Gurgurich, we know the impact he's had on people's lives, on players' lives, on the difference he makes. One of our players recently asked me Coach, why do you coach? We know you did pretty well in school, we know you could have done a lot of things. I said you know what? It's for two reasons. I love the competition, I hate to lose, love to win, but it's the impact that we as coaches have on young men. And if I can somehow, and our staff can just somehow make a difference in our players' lives, these are the guys that are important. Somehow like coach Tark did, like Coach Grg did, then we've really, really done our job. It's really about these players, and we've always talked about as great as yesterday was for our family, the highlight for me was the opportunity that I had to go spend time with guys that I had unbelievable respect for their effort, for their commitment to winning. I think that in a short period of time, I think we've developed a little bit of a rapport, and again it's going to take some time with trust, but this is a winning team, and for these guys to show up when they've known me for one day means a lot to me and our staff.

I had a really good conversation with my wife, we loaded up the car, my kids have spring break next week, so we loaded up the car, left Provo, my wife drove, and I joked with her at the end this was the quickest trip we've ever had, because my phone rang the whole time. Coach Kruger and I had an opportunity to speak. What a great conversation. I told these guys last night how fortunate they were to come to UNLV and to play for coach Kruger and his staff, and the unbelievable foundation that coach Kruger had. So many of the legends are here today, you are the guys that really make this program what it is. I complimented coach Kruger on that. And what we're going to try to do is just build on the great tradition of this program, what coach Kruger left behind. For him to call and to just lend a helping hand, was something that meant a lot of me and our coaching staff.

I will tell you in terms of style of play, and it's something that's really, really important to us, these guys defend as well as anyone in the country. And the only thing I know is what you learn from Coach Tarkanian, and that's to play Runnin' Rebel basketball, and you know what that means. It's to defend at one end, and to push the ball as fast as you possibly can to the other end. If the other team scores, then let's not let that happen very often, whoever the four man is, he'll get the ball out of bounds, we're going to sprint it up, and we're going to play together, and we're going to play winning basketball. The thing we talked about is that, we're going to win, we know we're going to win, but the style of play is so important to us and to our staff. And that's what we're going to recruit to, a style of play. You've got guys up here who can play that way and who can make coach Tark and all the former coaches proud. And we're also going to be consistent. I think the most important characteristic of our program is going to be consistency. Really, really important for us to play that way, that's an extremely important thing.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank all the wonderful coaches that I had an opportunity to work for at UNLV. Again it started with coach Tark, and then it was coach Grg, and then one year we remember it was coach Landa, and then coach Edwards, and then coach Bayno, and then coach Good, and then coach Spoonhour, and then coach Jay Spoonhour. And so, you talk about, if you've had the ability to learn from a lot of different experiences, then I should be a pretty smart guy. But this is a special place, it will always be about the players, it will always be about the tradition of this program. I'm really humbled by the unbelieveable people that are in this room. Again, I don't know exactly why it's my turn to have this, but I represent all the former Rebels who are just as equally qualified and just want to say how thankful I am. My family's here, my wife's family is here, my wife Mindy is here, she's actually a UNLV grad, which is really, really relevant. And then my son Travis is here, and we told him yesterday morning we got the call and we're going to UNLV, and the first thing he said to me, he said "You know Dad, I've made enough baskets in the Marriott Center, I think I need to try out the Thomas & Mack. And then we have an eight-year old, he's a Runnin' Rebel fan, but he'd rather be swimming today, so I think we all understand priorities in life. Again, so excited to be here, with great support staff, and I always believe if you start listing everybody, you'll leave someone out and hurt people's feelings, but the thing that makes UNLV so unique is the fact that people care, and people stay, and there's something about the Runnin' Rebel family and the real goal of our program is to be inclusive and I'm just so excited to be the coach, so many people were so qualified, but I'm excited to be back on campus  and I'm excited to be in the community. Our team is going to overachieve, we're going to stay together, we're going to make extra passes, we're going to shoot the ball well, we're going to play with freedom within out structure, we're going to win games, and we're going to have a good time doing it. And we're going to be thankful for all the players and coaches that came before us.

The one person that I do want to mention, this is one person that is special to all of us in the room, it's a person that would really like to be here today. And it's a person that I wish could be here to see this. And that's Kenny Guinn. Because he really symbolizes, and epitomizes what we're all supposed to be about. Nobody loved the state of Nevada, nobody loved the community of Las Vegas, nobody loved UNLV more than Kenny Guinn. And he would tell us all, let's get on the same train together, let's get together, let be a team, let's go win, and let's enjoy what we're doing. So a special mention of Dr. Guinn, someone who believed in me and believed in all of us and he's really what we want our program to be all about. 

Thank you so much. It means so much to our family, to our players, and to our coaching staff that is being assembled. We actually added a coach today, Justin Hudson. He's going to be the first coach named to the staff. Justin's done an unbelievable job at San Diego State, and he actually signed a contract today, it's like a kid signed a NLI, now we don't have a violation, but he signed his name, so he's good, now we can talk about him. And then just to be proactive, I have been in conversation with Stacey Augmon, and there is no greater Rebel, I know there are guys that are tied, but there is no greater Rebel the Stacey Augmon. We've talked about the possibility of him joining our staff, and Stacey, he's so loyal and concerned with the Denver Nuggets and the fact they're about to start the playoffs. He's really interested in coming, and we're going to continue to talk. I can't think of anyone who would better represent our program and what coach Tark and all the former coaches and players were about than Stacey.

I'm excited to be back, and excited to have a Rebel presence, and just excited more than anything to be your coach. And I'll just leave you with this is our program, it's not mine, I'm just a caretaker, but I'm just honored to be the one who has the chance to be a big part of Runnin' Rebel basketball once again.

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