After two seasons as head coach of the Runnin’ Rebels T.J. Otzelberger has resigned has head coach of UNLV to take over the head coaching vacancy at Iowa State, first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal Tuesday and confirmed by both schools today.
Otzelberger spent eight seasons with the Cyclones as an assistant, his wife Allison Lacey was a star women’s basketball player at Iowa State, and Otzelberger has a close relationship with Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard.
“I want to thank our student-athletes, coaches, staff, and fans for a memorable two years at UNLV and in the Las Vegas community,” Otzelberger said in a statement. “I especially want to thank Desiree Reed-Francois for providing me with the incredible honor of leading the Runnin’ Rebels. These decisions are never easy, but Alison and I are excited to return to Iowa State where we started our family and spent so many formative years.”
In a video statement, Pollard noted that Iowa State expected for a situation where they would make a coaching change, saying his staff spent the last few weeks of the basketball seasons identifying candidates, likely confirming what was reported in the CBS Sports story that this has been done for about a month.
Pollard said that Iowa State used a national search to look to replace Steve Prohm. The Cyclones made the announcement official Monday night and on Tuesday, Pollard said they “activated their plan.” On Tuesday they went through the list of candidates and Pollard said it was evident that Otzelberger was the “most ready” to take the job.
Last night Iowa State officially offered Otzelberger the job after a personal interview with him and this morning Otzelberger called Iowa State to say he would accept the job. Pollard said that UNLV Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Fracnois did “everything in her power to keep” Otzelbeger at UNLV including offering him an extension late last night.
“When our coaches are being pursued by others, it is a testament to what we are building,” Reed-Francois said in a statement. “We appreciate Coach Otzelberger’s contributions to our men’s basketball program and we wish T.J. and his family all the best as they continue their journey.”
UNLV will now conduct a national search for its new head coach. The program will now be looking for its 14 different head coach since Jerry Tarkanian was forced to resign in 1992.