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Sorry for the delay in getting this note to you, but BCS and Mountain West Conference activities had me traveling for a couple of weeks ... What an exciting note to prep for UNLV fans! There are so many fun things going on with your Rebels this Spring. We hope you enjoy hearing the news and will help us celebrate our great student-athletes in all 17 of our programs.
This Saturday is one of the most important days of the year for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas as it is Spring Commencement at the Thomas & Mack Center. We're not only proud of the 47 student-athletes who will be receiving their diplomas this Spring, we're proud of all the new UNLV graduates who will be leaving this University to go make an impact in the world, many of them in the Las Vegas community ... Through wins and losses, coaching changes and budget issues, our mission with UNLV Athletics never wavers - we are here to grow young men and women academically, socially and athletically.
RICE ROUNDING OUT COACHING STAFF
"Welcome home." That theme was appropriate when we hired former Runnin' Rebel Dave Rice as our men's head basketball coach on April 10 and it was appropriate again this Tuesday when Runnin' Rebel great Stacey Augmon - now Coach Augmon - arrived for his first day of work at UNLV as an assistant coach. Throughout the hiring process, Dave was big on talking about putting together a first-rate staff and he has delivered on that promise. Associate head coach Justin Hutson brings us one of the top recruiters in the West, Heath Schroyer brings key experience as a head coach and Stacey brings us, well, many, many things as you can imagine. And the key is they are all great teachers of the game and our student-athletes are going to benefit from that.
The staff has inherited a great situation with a group of talented players who know how to win and work hard. Now they are going to work on shaping the program into their own and continuing to build UNLV into one of the premier college basketball programs in not only the West, but the nation. I can't think of a better first month of a head coaching era than the one Dave has enjoyed. So, as Dave says, "Let's Run."
RAF RENEWAL DEADLINE MAY 20
A final reminder that Rebel Athletic Fund renewals are due by next Friday, May 20. We've been amazed at the growth of the RAF this past year, not only in number of members, but revenues as well. And we are going to keep growing those numbers as well. Thank you for your support of our student-athletes. With the budget crisis in our state, our athletics department needs your support now more than ever ... And remember, renewing your RAF membership is key to protecting your priority seating opportunities for men's basketball and football. Don't miss this important deadline. Thank you!
GET YOUR RIB ON SATURDAY, MAY 21 AT THE ORLEANS
We're looking forward to seeing you at The Orleans Hotel & Casino next weekend for the Orleans USA Barbecue Championship. The event (which will be held May 21-22) will feature the world's best barbecue vendors selling their famous ribs, pork, brisket, chicken and other great eats at the Ribba-Ramma barbecue fest. The professionals will be vying for $125,000 in prize money.
On Saturday, May 21, come join fellow UNLV fans as well as coaches and check out the UNLV Ribba-Ramma amateur competition, created especially for the weekend warrior and backyard griller. All proceeds from the amateur competition will support UNLV Athletics through the Rebel Athletic Fund. For more information on registering a team for just $75, click here.
Also, many of our head coaches will be on hand that day for the event including women's soccer coach Jen Klein (1-2 p.m), men's basketball coach Dave Rice
(3-4 p.m.), women's basketball coach Kathy Olivier (5-6 p.m.) and football coach Bobby Hauck (6-7 p.m.) In fact, Bobby is scheduled to be on hand to help celebrate the winners of the UNLV Ribba-Ramma contest.
So now's your chance to see who's Nevada's Grilling Guru when it comes to the best ribs in the state. Or, just come on out to festival to enjoy great food, music and fun with fellow Rebels. Admission is free. Visit www.smokeonthewaterbbq.com for more information on the event.
FOOTBALL RENEWAL DEADLINE MAY 20
People believe in Bobby Hauck and we love that. Everywhere I go in town those who have had the opportunity to speak with our second-year head football coach are excited for the future of the program. Changing a culture is difficult and does not happen overnight, especially in college football. But we are seeing the environment of the program change daily and are excited about what the future will bring for Rebel Football ... For those renewing season tickets for football, the deadline date is next Friday, May 20. And for those interested in getting involved with the program, season tickets start this season at just $75. Call (702) 739-FANS or visit www.UNLVtickets.com.
CHAMBERS, REBEL BASEBALL MAKING NOISE
In just his first season leading Rebel Baseball, head coach Tim Chambers has made an immediate impact. His team reached the 30-win mark this past weekend at Washington State marking the first time since 2005 UNLV has reached that many wins in a season. And the best news is we have seven more regular season games to play. The club will travel to Air Force for a three-game series this weekend before ending the regular season with four home games next week (UC Riverside on Tuesday, May 17 and San Diego State next Thursday-Saturday, May 19-21) ... We hope to see you out at Wilson Stadium next week to cheer on the Rebels as they eye possible postseason play. Remember, kids 12-and-under are always free.
CHAMBERS, REBEL BASEBALL MAKING NOISE IN THE FUTURE
Not only does Chambers have the Rebels in position to compete for a bid to the 2011 NCAA Championship Tournament, he has also assembled a stellar recruiting class consisting of the top talent in the state of Nevada as well as key additions from the junior college level for the 2012 season. Chambers' first class features teammates from powerhouse Bishop Gorman and Rancho High. One of the biggest commitments comes from catcher Scott Thomassetti, arguably the best power hitter in the state and member of the nationally-ranked Sierra Vista squad that is currently 35-3 heading into the state playoffs. The future for the UNLV baseball program is as bright as ever with a deep pool of local standout student-athletes coming in ... We will also be hosting the 2012 Mountain West Conference Championship tournament at Wilson Stadium. It will be great for locals to come out and root on the Rebels.
WOW! WHAT A WEEKEND IN SOFTBALL
College softball is an amazing spectator sport and it doesn't get any more exciting than it was at Eller Media Stadium on campus this past weekend. The Rebels beat a strong San Diego State team on back-to-back days with walk-off home runs. On Saturday, freshman Tayler Van Acker hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the eighth inning while senior Ashli Holland hit the game-winner on Sunday in the bottom of the seventh. Earlier this week, Holland was named the Mountain West Conference's Player of the Week while teammate Kylie Wagner earned the MW's Pitcher of the Week honors ... The young squad is now 24-18 on the season and finishes the regular season at home this week with games vs. New Mexico (tonight) and Colorado State (Friday and Saturday, May 13-14) ... Kids 12-and-under are always free to these fun games. Hope to see you there.
MEN GOLFERS HEAD TO NCAA TOURNAMENT ... AGAIN
Congratulations to coach Dwaine Knight and his men's golf team for their NCAA record 23rd straight appearance in an NCAA Regional. UNLV is a No. 6 seed in the San Diego Regional which begins May 19th ... Also, congratulations to junior Derek Ernst for being selected as the Mountain West Conference Men's Golfer of the Year for the second straight season. Last week, Ernst won the MW's conference championship. And continuing the great tradition of UNLV golf, Blake Biddle was named the MW's Freshman of the Year ... It's amazing what Dwaine has accomplished with his program throughout the years. Congratulations, Coach.
MORE NCAA ACTION
There is a reason UNLV is one of the top golf schools in the nation. Last week, our women's team participated in its ninth-straight NCAA Regional - and the program has only been around 10 years. Congratulations to first-year head coach Amy Bush and her squad for another strong season. .. In tennis, our 39th-ranked women's team will be playing in its fifth-straight NCAA Tennis Championship under coach Kevin Cory. We match up against 29th-ranked San Diego this Saturday in Los Angeles in the first round. Good luck, ladies ... Senior Mehdi Bouras will be representing our men's tennis program in the NCAA Tennis Championships later this month at Stanford. He earned an automatic bid into the singles field as well as the doubles draw along with partner Bernard Schoeman.
COACHES VS. CANCER LAS VEGAS GOLF CLASSIC
New Runnin' Rebel head coach Dave Rice is joining former UNLV and current Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger as co-chair of the fourth annual Coaches vs. Cancer Las Vegas Golf Classic on May 22-24, presented by MGM Resorts International ... We hope you'll join them and other head coaches such as North Carolina's Roy Williams and Kansas State's Frank Martin at Sunday night's "Opening Night at Bellagio" cocktail event at the Bellagio. Legendary UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian has attended the last couple of years as well. All of the proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. For information and tickets, click here ... Lon started and helped to grow the event into the top Coaches vs. Cancer golf tournament in the West. Dave has jumped right in and is looking forward to being involved. It doesn't surprise me that Dave and Lon are working closely together on the event as both are outstanding men and have a great deal of respect for one another. It's a unique relationship between the two and UNLV and the community will benefit from this partnership for so many different reasons.
A FEW REBEL TIDBITS ...
Check out this story about junior Amanda Bingson from Tuesday's Las Vegas Review-Journal. Bingson, one of the top hammer throwers in the nation as part of the UNLV Women's Track & Field team, is making people use words like "All-American" and "potential Olympian." That is special stuff ... If you can't make it out to the baseball game on Thursday, May 19, check out our live television-style production that will be streamed on UNLVRebels.com with multiple cameras, graphics, etc. All of our home games are streamed live on UNLVRebels.com with a press box camera and live play-by-play (by Marques Brody and former Rebel Eric Nielsen), but our team is testing some production capabilities on May 19th for future possibilities ... Boulder City has always been a GREAT Rebel town. And next Wednesday, May 18 at 5:30 p.m., new Runnin' Rebel head coach Dave Rice will be on hand at Boulder City's Rec Center to meet and greet fans, take pictures and answer questions. He'll then head over to the baseball field to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. It's free and open to the public, so please stop by and say hi to our new coach.
We hope you enjoyed reading about your Rebels as much as we enjoy talking about our student-athletes and our coaches. Hard to believe the 2010-11 school year is coming to an end. But all that means is the 2011-12 school year is almost here. And I have a feeling it's going to be fun - lots of fun for Rebel Athletics.
Don't forget, it's a GREAT day to be a Rebel. Get Your Reb On!
Director of Athletics