Be sure to check out this year's first Rebel Short video featuring new Runnin' Rebel head coach Dave Rice, director of athletics Jim Livengood and a cast featuring a number of UNLV Athletics representatives. Let's Run.
Dave Rice is in his second season as the head men's basketball coach at UNLV.
On April 10, 2011, Rice returned to the school where he was part of the 1990 National Championship team as a player, was a Rhodes Scholar candidate while earning his bachelor's degree in political science (UNLV '91), earned his master's of business administration (UNLV '93) and served as a Runnin' Rebel assistant coach for 11 seasons (1991-92 & 1994-2004).
In his first season back at UNLV, the 11th full-time head coach in UNLV men's basketball history led the Runnin' Rebels to a 26-9 overall record as he became the winningest first-year head coach in the program's 54 years of existence.
He guided UNLV to its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance and its fifth in the last six years, becoming one of only four first-year coaches in the country to make an appearance in the 2012 Big Dance. He also led the Runnin' Rebels to three wins over top-25 teams during the 2011-12 season, including a win over No. 1 North Carolina, marking the program's first victory over the nation's top-ranked team in 22 years and the first time a Mountain West school has ever defeated the No. 1 team in both polls.
Rice, 44, coached the Runnin' Rebels to their best start to a season (22-5) since 1991-92 and had his team ranked in the top 25 for 13 straight weeks (14 overall during the year), climbing to as high as No. 11 in the country. He also guided the squad to a 17-1 record at the Thomas & Mack Center, which included a perfect 16-0 mark during the regular season, UNLV's first undefeated home regular season in 20 years. He also coached the team to 20 wins before the start of February, which was a first for UNLV since 1987.
UNLV was second in the nation in assists per game last year (17.6) and also second in the country in percentage of field goals assisted (65.4). The team also led the Mountain West in scoring (76.3 ppg), assists and steals (8.5 spg).
In Rice's first year at the helm of the Runnin' Rebel program, he coached in front of six regular-season Thomas & Mack Center crowds of more than 15,000, including three sellouts of 18,577. Prior to the 2011-12 season, UNLV had three total sellouts during the previous 19 years. To put the crowds of 15,000-plus into perspective, no Pac-12 Conference arena has a capacity of more than 15,000. The Runnin' Rebels were No. 17 in the country in home attendance and No. 1 on the West Coast.
Rice and his staff have also spent considerable time working toward the future and upgrading the talent on UNLV's roster as their 2012 recruiting class was ranked as the seventh-best in the nation by ESPN, ahead of schools such as North Carolina, Michigan State, Indiana, Duke and Kansas. No other Mountain West team was included in the top 25.
In September, Rice was given a five-year contract by the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, securing him in Las Vegas through at least the 2016-17 season.
Prior to accepting his first head coaching job, Rice accumulated 18 years of experience as an assistant coach at the Division-I level.
Rice joined Dave Rose's BYU staff in 2005 as an assistant coach, then was promoted to associate head coach in 2008. He helped BYU to five straight 25-win seasons and five consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2011. BYU finished that season as the nation's 10th-ranked team, won the Mountain West regular-season championship and finished with an overall record of 32-5. The Cougars, led by National Player of the Year Jimmer Fredette, climbed as high as No. 3 in the polls, which is the highest a Mountain West team has ever been ranked.
Rice was in charge of coordinating BYU's high-powered offense as well as the program's recruiting efforts. He developed a stellar reputation in the industry and was regarded as one of the top assistant coaches in the nation. In 2010 in a FoxSports.com poll, he was selected by other conference coaches as the top assistant coach in the Mountain West. Rice also became known as one of the top offensive minds in all of college basketball as the Cougars led the Mountain West in scoring offense in all six of his seasons at BYU.
With Rice's help, BYU had some of the most successful teams in school and Mountain West history. From 2005-11 the Cougars compiled an overall record of 159-45, including 78-18 in Mountain West action. During that span BYU won four Mountain West championships and in each of his last five seasons with the school, it finished ranked in the top 25. The Cougars also ranked in the top 20 nationally in several offensive categories over his last six seasons.
Rice also spent a year (2004-05) as assistant coach at Utah State under Coach Stew Morrill after his long tenure as assistant at UNLV.
During his lone season at Utah State, the Aggies recorded a 24-8 overall mark, finished second in the Big West Conference during the regular season and won the conference tournament title to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The first former player to become head coach of the program, Rice played for two seasons (1989-91) at UNLV as a reserve guard on two of legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian's Final Four teams. His 11 seasons as a UNLV assistant coach still stands as the second-most in school history behind only Tim Grgurich's 12.
During his time as an assistant at UNLV, the Runnin' Rebels made two NCAA Tournament appearances, played in the NIT five times, tallied two regular-season conference championships and two conference tournament championships.
Rice got his start in coaching when Tarkanian approached him about entering the profession after his playing career was over. Rice actually served as a graduate assistant on Tarkanian's staff during the legendary coach's final season at UNLV in 1991-92.
Rice has played alongside or helped guide 14 players that went on to play in the National Basketball Association, nine of whom were drafted in the first round, including seven lottery picks.
Rice also spent a season (1993-94) as an assistant coach at Chaffey (Calif.) College. That team recorded a 32-6 mark, won its conference championship and reached the California Community College Final Four. He spent the previous season as the assistant coach at his alma mater, Claremont (Calif.) High School. At CHS, he served under his father, Lowell, a longtime high school coach. That team went 21-7, winning the Baseline League Championship and reaching the CIF quarterfinals.
During Rice's time as a player for the Runnin' Rebels, the squad posted a 69-6 record, which included winning a school-record 45 consecutive games. In addition to the national title and the two Final Four appearances, those teams captured the Big West regular-season title twice along with two conference tournament crowns. Prior to transferring to UNLV, Rice played at Mt. San Antonio College from 1987-89, where he earned All-South Coast Conference honors as a sophomore and was chosen from among more than 13,000 student-athletes as the 1989 California Junior College Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Rice was also a two-time winner of UNLV's Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
Rice is the sixth UNLV graduate in any sport to become a head coach at the school, following Tina Kunzer-Murphy in women's tennis (head coach from 1978-81), Wayne Nunnely in football (1986-89), Dan Abdalla in women's soccer (2000-04), Kathy Olivier in women's basketball (2008-present) and Rich Ryerson in men's soccer (2010-present).
Dave and his wife, Mindy, who is also a UNLV graduate, have two sons, Travis, 15, and Dylan, 10.
The couple established the Dave Rice Foundation in the spring of 2012, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to the education and suport of health initiatives including developmental disorders such as Autism, and other charitable causes.
At the foundation's inaugural "An Evening with Dave Rice" event at the Palms in Las Vegas, $100,000 was donated to the UNLV Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders.