Marvin Menzies out as UNLV basketball coach

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Steve Marcus

UNLV head coach Marvin Menzies reacts during his team’s game against UNR at the Thomas & Mack Center Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019.

Published Fri, Mar 15, 2019 (3:44 p.m.)

Updated Fri, Mar 15, 2019 (5:31 p.m.)

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Marvin Menzies has been fired by UNLV after three years as head coach of the Runnin' Rebels.

Menzies was informed of the decision in a meeting Friday afternoon with Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois. He had two years remaining on his contract, and UNLV will have to pay the $800,000 owed on the remainder of the deal.

Menzies did not respond to a text message seeking comment.

In a press conference announcing the move, Reed-Francois said she did not have confidence in Menzies's ability to win big at UNLV.

"Quite simply, our men's basketball program needs to win more than we have," Reed-Francois said. "When we looked ahead to next season and beyond, I wasn't bullish on seeing significantly better results."

According to sources, former Ohio State coach Thad Matta is a leading candidate to replace Menzies. Former NBA star and current Memphis assistant Mike Miller is also vying for the job.

Reed-Francois dispelled those rumors and said she has not yet reached out to any potential candidates, either personally or through intermediaries. UNLV has retained a search firm helmed by former coach Eddie Fogler to facilitate the process.

Reed-Francois expressed confidence that UNLV will be able to attract good candidates, hinting that some coaches may not be available until their current teams are finished playing in the NCAA tournament.

She also said that program boosters have organized to increase the budget for the next hire, enough to make him the highest-paid coach in the Mountain West.

"This is an important hire and I want to do everything I can to maximize the chances of knocking it out of the park," Reed-Francois said.

Menzies was hired after a lengthy coaching search in the spring of 2016 that saw UNLV first try to lure Mick Cronin and Chris Beard.

Cronin came close to accepting the job, but opted to return to Cincinnati at the last minute; Beard actually took the job but bolted less than two weeks later when Texas Tech offered him a substantially more lucrative contract.

Then-AD Tina Kunzer-Murphy then turned to Menzies. With little time to recruit and only two players returning from the 2015-16 team, Menzies was forced to fill the roster with marginal recruits. The Rebels went 11-21 in Menzies’s first year, the worst record in program history.

UNLV improved to 20-13 in 2017-18, led by 5-star freshman Brandon McCoy. The team took a step back in Menzies’s third season, however, finishing 17-14 overall (11-7 in the Mountain West) and losing in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament on Thursday.

With on-court progress coming slowly and attendance dwindling, Reed-Francois made the call to oust Menzies.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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