former UNLV great Larry Johnson isn't too happy with the athletic adminstration at the school.
"I don’t like those Arizona people (AD Jim Livengood came over from the University of Arizona) in the administration and they don’t like me," Johnson said. "It’s not UNLV Runnin’ Rebels no more, it’s UNLV Wildcats right now."
Outside of Stacey Augmon getting a job as an assistant to new coach to new coach Dave Rice, players from the Tarkanian era, most notably from the late 80's/early 90's, are getting the cold shoulder from the Arizona contingent.
"Outside of gambling, we put Las Vegas on the map," said Johnson, who at age 42 is a successful businessman with a 15-year-old son, Lasani. "I was bitter for years at the way they treated us and Coach Tark. The administration looked at us as villains. Tark was like my father. If they messed with him, they messed with me."
I agree somewhat, but Tark put Vegas on the map. They already had a solid program that could compete with the national powers. LJ and crew just took it to another level. They were like the Miami Hurricanes of college basketball. They were looked at as villains, but they were just a supremely talented basketball team.
Johnson had some other things to say about the state of the program,the "Arizona Connection" and how former coach Lon Kruger won him over.
"Kruger gained my respect for what he was doing and the way he was trying to bring back previous Rebels, who had a bitter taste in their mouth with the University for how the Tark situation was handled," Johnson said. "Lon did an excellent job extending the olive branch. I was attending more games, going to alumni banquets and all the alumni golf tournaments. I was getting back involved."
"People all over town, wherever I went, asked me if I wanted to coach," Johnson said. "They wanted me and Stacey, knowing he had been an assistant coach. They had to hire him (as an assistant), knowing they would never consider me."
"It’s all about recruiting and identification with past performers at the school," Johnson said. The administration turned its back on us and consequently players have left for Texas, Duke and other top national programs. Today, I would probably do the same."
I don't know about coach rice, but maybe he could extend the olive branch to Johnson, being an ex-teammate of his. I'm not taking sides, but he was one of the greatest Rebels of all time. Maybe it's time to embrace who brought you to prominence.