The Dagger - NCAAB

In addition to landing a new coach who appears to be a good fit for its program, budget-conscious UNLV also got quite a bargain this spring.

The Las Vegas Sun reported Thursday that Rebels coach Dave Rice's three-year contract will pay him $400,000 a year, well below market value even among his peers in the Mountain West Conference. Next season, Rice and his three assistants will receive a total of $937,000, which is actually less than the $1.1 million that Lon Kruger would have made at UNLV had he not left for Oklahoma instead.

Granted this is Rice's first head coaching job and Kruger had a proven track record even before taking UNLV to four NCAA tournaments in seven seasons, but that discrepancy is surprising nonetheless. Equally unproven coaches at similar or lesser programs are making more than Rice, a UNLV alum who had served as an assistant at Utah State and BYU prior to returning to his alma mater.

• First-year Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak's five-year contract will pay him $950,000 per year.

• First-year Wyoming coach Larry Shyatt will make a similar base salary to Rice but can earn as much as $645,000 a year with incentives.

Colorado State coach Tim Miles signed an extension this offseason that bumps his salary for next season to $585,000 and increases it again to $750,000 the next four years.

New Mexico coach Steve Alford signed an extension in 2010 that boosted his total compensation to $1,149,200 last season.

Rice's comparatively low salary served two purposes, saving UNLV money to balance its books for the 2011 fiscal year yet enabling the new coach to splurge to pay for high-priced assistants Stacey Augmon and Justin Hutson.

UNLV is a dream job for Rice, so it's understandable that he'd accept it at a salary below market value. Nonetheless, the Rebels should reward him with a raise if he wins because otherwise another wealthier program surely will.

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