What’s going on with this UNLV coaching search?

NCAA Basketball: Southern Methodist at Cincinnati
Mar 6, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin reacts from the bench against the Southern Methodist Mustangs in the first half at Fifth Third Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The soap opera that is the UNLV coaching search continues, and it was almost over, according to UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy.

UNLV’s head of athletics told Mitch Moss on ESPN 1100 Friday she received a verbal agreement from Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin to become the next Runnin’ Rebels head coach, but Cronin pulled a DeAndre Jordan on UNLV and decided to remain at his alma mater and continue to coach the Bearcats.

So, the Rebels are left in scrambling mode once again and the candidates are running low. Back to square one, it seems.

The latest names to surface for the Rebels job have been New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies, former St. John’s coach Steve Lavin and current Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett. Mark Anderson of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Menzies is on his way to Vegas later this evening to interview for the position. Menzies has coached New Mexico State to five appearances in the NCAA tournament in nine years.

Kunzer-Murphy seemed to be intrigued by Menzies during her interview on ESPN 1100, so that’s a development to look out for.

One name that can for sure be crossed off the list is Bennett, who has coached the Gaels to two West Coast Conference championships and four NCAA tournament appearances. Bennett signed a 10-year contract with Saint Mary’s in 2011, so the job security is there for a guy who has coached the Gaels to nine straight 20-win seasons.

Also, a source close to the Saint Mary’s program told me Bennett is comfortable in terms of job security and location. He, as well as his children, like the Moraga area and have no intentions of moving any time soon. While UNLV will reach out, Bennett won’t be leaving the Gaels.

Lavin has been a name long thrown around by Willie Ramirez of the Associated Press and could be the front runner if talks with Menzies somehow fall through, according to a source close to the situation. Lavin last coached St. John’s in 2014-15 and led the Red Storm to two NCAA tournament appearances in five years.

If talks progress well tonight, expect Menzies to take the job for far less than the reported $3 million offered to Cronin. Nevertheless, it’s becoming a restless situation in Las Vegas right now.

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