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The 10 highest-paid coaches in Silver State history

Marcus Arroyo
Marcus Arroyo, right, is the highest-paid coach in Silver State history. (UNLV athletics)

With a spate of high-profile Silver State coaching hires made in the last year, our rankings of highest-paid coaches in state history needs some updating (UNLV has hired a football coach and men's basketball coach while Nevada has hired a men's basketball coach and re-upped its football coach in the year). Here is a look at the 10 highest-paid coaches in the state of Nevada.

1. Marcus Arroyo, UNLV football, $1.5 million

UNLV has broken the bank with its last two high-profile coaching hires, giving basketball coach T.J. Otzelberger a five-year, $5.75 million deal and football coach Marcus Arroyo a five-year, $7.7 million contract. In the last 12 months, the Rebels have committed $13.45 million in contracts for its football and basketball coach for the next five years. Arroyo's deal starts at $1.5 million annually and rises to $1.6 million annually by the end of his tenure. Arroyo will eventually get some company in the $1.5 million plateau from Otzelberger and Nevada's Steve Alford, but for now, he's the king of the Silver State when it comes to annual salary.

2t. T.J. Otzelberger, UNLV basketball, $1.1 million

UNLV handed Otzelberger a five-year, $6.5 million contract that paid him $1.1 million in 2019-20 and will run up to $1.5 million for his last season at UNLV. That's an elite price tag in the Mountain West, whose highest-paid coach ever is Alford, who maxed out at $1.3 million before leaving New Mexico for UCLA (Alford's deal at Nevada pays him $500,000 this year and increase to $1.5 million eventually). Otzelberger's $6.5 million even surpassed the five-year, $5.75 million pact UNLV gave to Chris Beard a few offseasons ago before he bounced to Texas Tech after a couple of weeks. That contract isn’t included in this breakdown given he never logged a season with the Rebels.

2t. Lon Kruger, UNLV basketball, $1.1 million

Kruger was the first coach in the state’s history to break the $1 million mark. He earned it. The former NBA coach is the only man to lead four schools to the Sweet 16, doing so at UNLV in 2007. He was 161-71 in seven seasons at UNLV, with four NCAA Tournament appearances and two NITs (he left a strong roster that reached the NCAAs the two years following his departure). Kruger was eventually lured away by Oklahoma's big bucks, a move that didn't have UNLV fans heartbroken. Many fans thought he maxed out with the Rebels; clearly they were wrong. UNLV has struggled since his departure.

4. Eric Musselman, Nevada basketball, $1 million

After two seasons at the cut-rate price of $400,000 per season, Musselman cashed in with a record-setting deal that paid him $1 million annually, the highest in Wolf Pack history. Musselman had a record-breaking four-year tenure at Nevada, earning 110 wins, four MW titles and three NCAA Tournament berths, including a Sweet 16 in 2018. He also won the CBI in his first season, increasing Nevada's win total from nine to 24. The Wolf Pack's big contract didn't keep Musselman in town, however, as he signed a five-year, $12.5 million contract with Arkansas in April 2019.

5. Rollie Massimino, UNLV basketball, $886,000

The most controversial contract in the state's history paid Massimino $886,000 annually – only few people knew that. His approved contract paid him $511,000 per year, but he received another $375,000 unknown to the Nevada Board of Regents. He was forced out after two seasons, the contract being used as the scapegoat following a 15-13 season and plummeting attendance. Massimino won a national title at Villanova but couldn't fill Jerry Tarkanain's big shoes. He got a $1.8 million settlement to go away at UNLV. This contract was a complete disaster.

6T. Marvin Menzies, UNLV basketball, $700,000

Menzies wasn’t UNLV’s first choice for the job a few years ago, with the Rebels trying to lure Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin and then hiring Beard before he bounced for his alma mater. UNLV eventually settled for Menzies, who was given a contract that paid him $700,000 in guaranteed money in each of his first three seasons on the job, with that number rising to $800,000 in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Unfortunately for Menzies, he didn’t make it to 2019-20 after being fired after three years on the job.

6T. Dave Rice, UNLV basketball, $700,000

Kruger's successor, Rice, posted a good record. He was 98-54 at UNLV, a 64.5 winning percentage, with two NCAA Tournament appearances and three 20-win campaigns in four full seasons. But his teams struggled in the MW, where Rice was 37-32. He was fired three games into conference play in 2015-16 and eventually became an assistant at Nevada before moving on to Washington. Oddly, the Silver State has paid its basketball coaches more than its football coaches, with hoops coaches taking six of the top seven spots on this list. It’s usually the opposite with Division I schools spending more on football, the big cash cow.

6T. Bobby Hauck, UNLV football, $700,000

Prior to UNLV hiring Arroyo this offseason, Hauck was the highest-paid gridiron coach Silver State history despite Hall of Famers Chris Ault and John Robinson leading teams in the state. Somehow, Hauck got a $700,000-per-year deal after posting a 13-38 record over his first four seasons at UNLV. He was rewarded with that nice extension after his lone bowl appearance before going 2-11 in 2014, a season that got him fired. Hauck (15-49) had just two wins in four of his five seasons, but he cashed a good amount of money before being fired.

9. Jay Norvell, Nevada football, $625,000

When Nevada hired Jay Norvell, the long-time assistant coach only made $450,000 in his debut season. His salary bumped up to $500,000 in year two and three and will increase to $625,000 for the 2020 campaign as part of the five-year pact he signed with the Wolf Pack this week. Norvell, who is 18-20 through his first three seasons, is the highest-paid football coach in school history and the second-highest paid coach in any sport in department history.

10T. Jerry Tarkanian, UNLV basketball, $600,000

The best coach in Nevada's history maxed out at $600,000, but that was a lot of money in the 1980s. Tarkanian, who was forced out at UNLV in 1992 amid pressure from NCAA investigators, went 509-105 in 19 seasons with the Rebels. He put UNLV on the national map and raised expectations to a level that hasn't been matched three decades later. Tarkanian's teams made 12 NCAA tournaments, including four Final Fours, and won one national title (in 1990). He was hired by the NBA's Spurs after his run at UNLV but lasted just 20 games before getting a $1.3 million settlement.

10T. Bill Bayno, UNLV basketball, $600,000

Bill Bayno made the same annual salary as Jerry Tarkanian! Crazy! Bayno was UNLV's fourth coach in five seasons when hired in 1995 at age 32. Bayno was 94-64 in five-plus seasons with two NCAA Tournament appearances and UNLV's lone MW regular-season title. On the court, he did well. Off the court, UNLV was entangled in an NCAA investigation based on the recruitment of Lamar Odom, which resulted in Bayno's pink slip seven games into the 2000-01 season. The NCAA cleared Bayno of wrongdoing; UNLV gave him a $400,000 settlement. Seven of the men on this list coached Rebels basketball. UNLV doesn’t mind spending in basketball, although it hasn’t always led to a lot of wins.

10T. Tony Sanchez, UNLV football, $600,000

We close our list with Sanchez, who jumped from the high school ranks to college and made a good chunk of change. Sanchez earned $510,00 annually when he was hired out of Bishop Gorman prior to the 2015 season before his salary jumped to $600,000 following an extension in 2017. Sanchez went 20-40 overall and 13-27 in the MW in five seasons, which was an improvement over his predecessor Hauck but not good enough to keep his job. Of the 12 coaches on this list, 10 coached for UNLV.

The next five

Brian Polian, Nevada football, $585,000

Mark Fox, Nevada basketball, $545,000

Steve Alford, Nevada basketball, $500,000; escalates to $1.15 million in 2021-22 and eventually $1.5 million in 2028-29

Chris Ault, Nevada football, $493,000

Mike Sanford, UNLV football, $425,000

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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