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Flip-Flop for UNLV, Grgurich : College basketball: Deal is struck with former Runnin' Rebel assistant but later disintegrates. Athletic Director Weaver resigns.

October 20, 1994|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The ongoing soap opera that is Nevada Las Vegas basketball took another bizarre turn Wednesday as the school started the day with someone who thought he was the new coach but ended with neither a coach nor an athletic director.

According to sources, Tim Grgurich, a former assistant to coach Jerry Tarkanian, had agreed to take the job in the morning, but by day's end the only thing clear was that Jim Weaver, the school's athletic director, had resigned.

Weaver and UNLV interim President Kenny Guinn met Wednesday night in Guinn's office to continue discussions about the hiring of Grgurich. But when Weaver emerged from Guinn's office, he called a quick news conference to announce that he was leaving UNLV but would stay in his job until Dec. 31.

The move underscores the chaotic state the campus has been in since school officials began the procedure to force out unpopular Coach Rollie Massimino last week.

Sources have said that Weaver, the athletic director since 1991-92, resigned because he did not want to recommend Grgurich for the job, and because of pressure he has felt from the community.

Weaver was said to be worried that Grgurich's link with the former regime would plunge UNLV back into the turmoil it experienced with the NCAA under Tarkanian.

The NCAA recently declined to prosecute Grgurich for alleged violations during his tenure as an assistant at Las Vegas.

Sources close to Grgurich said the coach and Weaver did not get along. There was said to be distrust between the two because of Grgurich's longtime association with Tarkanian.

Publicly, though, Weaver said he is resigning to help mend the rift in Las Vegas still lingering from the feud between Tarkanian and former UNLV president Robert Maxson, who holds the same position at Long Beach State.

"I believe I have been tagged as a person who is part of the old," said Weaver, formerly the associate athletic director at Florida. "I want to be the last person to go. I want this community to start to heal. I want this university to start to heal."

But Weaver has been on the hot seat for his role in negotiating a lucrative and controversial supplemental contract with Massimino. Several regents have expressed anger over Weaver's handling of the matter.

Guinn said UNLV will try to hire an interim coach for the upcoming season as soon as possible, leaving the hiring of a permanent coach until next year.

Grgurich was believed to be Guinn's top choice, but sources said he, too, was not willing to recommend Grgurich to the Board of Regents because of reservations he still has about Grgurich's ties to Tarkanian. Grgurich, whose wife and children still reside in Las Vegas, left the negotiations this morning believing he had a deal.

Sources close to the negotiations said Grgurich told Guinn he would accept the school's offer during a meeting Wednesday morning. That meeting occurred only moments before Guinn attended an ad hoc Nevada Board of Regents meeting to approve the almost $1.9- million buyout of Massimino's contract.

Guinn was expected to also announce an agreement had been reached with Grgurich.

However, Guinn said the sides had reached an impasse in negotiations and that UNLV mighthave to seek additional candidates.

Grgurich flew to San Diego, where the SuperSonics were playing the Lakers in an exhibition game, to discuss the situation with team officials. He met with UNLV players twice before leaving town to inform them he was their new coach.

Grgurich flew back to Las Vegas late Wednesday night to inform the players the deal had fallen apart and to say goodby.

A school source said players plan to meet with Guinn today to demand Grgurich be namedcoach.

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