As the UNLV coaching search begins to intensify with the swirling rumors involving Cincinnati's Mick Cronin, one contestant for the job looks to have officially removed his name from the race. Pending an unforeseen breakdown in contract negotiations, Southern Utah is set to name UNLV interim coach Todd Simon as the next head coach of their program. The deal is expected to be finalized within the next few days and an official statement could be made by the end of the week.
Simon took over the UNLV program on an interim basis after head coach Dave Rice was fired midway through the 2015-2016 season. The Rebels finished 9-8 under Simon, who guided the roster through a bevy of rough patches, including a multitude of untimely injuries. Finishing the year with just six healthy scholarship players on the roster, UNLV bowed out of the Mountain West Tournament to second-seeded Fresno State, the eventual lone representative from the conference in the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels finished the season with an 18-15 overall record.
The new position will be a challenge for Simon, who will inherit a Thunderbirds program coming off a 5-24 season, where they won just three games in the Big Sky Conference. However, Southern Utah is expected to return their top two scorers in James McGee and Trey Kennedy, which should ease the transition. Simon's move to Southern Utah adds to a chaotic week in the Mountain West, which has already seen Wyoming head coach Larry Shyatt resign and Cowboys' assistant coach Allen Edwards promoted.
For UNLV, the removal of Simon's name from the coaching mix still leaves them a lengthy, unofficial list of potential candidates for their next head coach. Rebels' assistant coaches Stacy Augmon and Ryan Miller have already interviewed for the position but in the last few days, rumors of Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin potentially being offered the job soon have begun to heat up. Only time will tell to see who will fill the void at the top of one of the Mountain West's biggest programs.