FRESNO — The Nevada Las Vegas basketball program would join the nation's elite within two years if Rick Pitino becomes the team's coach, said Jerry Tarkanian, the school's former coach, said.
"He'd be a great, great choice," said Tarkanian, who coaches Fresno State. "They'd be right up there with the best of them in two years."
Pitino resigned Monday as president and coach of the Boston Celtics.
Almost immediately after Pitino's resignation, his name was linked to several high-profile college coaching jobs. Among them were UNLV, UCLA, Indiana and Kentucky, which Pitino guided to the national championship before joining the Celtics in 1997.
"They're not bad now," Tarkanian said of the Runnin' Rebels, who reached the NCAA tournament but lost in the first round last year and are 9-4 this season. "They're going to win, but with Rick they'd get there much faster."
UNLV fired Coach Bill Bayno in December after the NCAA handed down sanctions against the program for recruiting violations. The NCAA banned the team from postseason play this year and placed the program on probation for four years.
Assistant Max Good took over as coach on an interim basis, with the team winning seven of eight.