April 1, 2011
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - Head men’s basketball coach Lon Kruger has resigned his position at UNLV to accept the same position with the University of Oklahoma, UNLV Athletics has announced.
In seven seasons with UNLV, Kruger posted an overall record of 161-71 (.694). But it was his final five seasons which helped to re-establish the program as one of the top programs in the West. In five seasons from 2006-11, the Runnin’ Rebels went 127-44 (.743) with four NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2007. The .743 winning percentage over the five season span was better than any one single-season winning percentage in the previous 14 years of UNLV basketball since legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian’s final season in 1991-92. The four NCAA Tournament appearances in the five seasons also came after a stretch of UNLV appearing in just two NCAA Tournaments over a 15-year stretch.
In addition to success on the court, UNLV’s program has enjoyed a rebirth in the Las Vegas community over the past five years. The Runnin’ Rebels’ attendance numbers have jumped in recent seasons posting the largest average crowds at the Thomas & Mack Center since Tarkanian’s final season. During the 2009-10 season, UNLV climbed to as high as No. 18 in the nation in attendance and is No. 1 on the West Coast.
Kruger leaves UNLV second all-time to Tarkanian in wins as a head coach.
Quotes from UNLV Athletics Director Jim Livengood:
“Lon Kruger helped to redefine UNLV basketball – both locally and nationally. What he accomplished in his seven seasons in Las Vegas will benefit UNLV and this community for years to come. Not only does the short-term future look bright for our basketball program with a very talented group of young men coming back next season, but the foundation has been established for long-term success as well. This is a very positive position for a new head coach to come to. We are already moving forward with the search process and are excited about the possibilities to keep growing the program.”
“We’re going to miss Lon, without a doubt. Not only on the court, but in the community – he was everywhere supporting everyone. But he is a strong leader and, like strong leaders do, they leave things better than they found them and we will benefit from that. Our next head coach will benefit from that."
Quotes from UNLV President Neal Smatresk:
“It’s been a pleasure working with Lon Kruger. 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."
“I have every confidence in our athletics director Jim Livengood proceeding in the search for our next head coach. I know he will do a great job.”
Quotes from former UNLV men's basketball coach Lon Kruger:
“Our hope is that the Las Vegas community appreciates the time we spent here half as much as we enjoyed being a part of it. This is a special place and this is a special program. It was a difficult decision to make, especially because of the great group of young men currently assembled in this program as well as those who have committed to us. They have a chance to accomplish some really impressive things in years to come and we will be rooting for them."
“[My wife] Barb and I can’t thank Las Vegas and all those involved with UNLV enough for the opportunity. The leadership right now under Neal [Smatresk] and Jim [Livengood] is very, very strong. The future for UNLV and the basketball program is bright, very bright.”