This past weekend I was able to travel just a few hours south to Wichita to see my beloved UNLV Runnin’ Rebels play a road game. Although the game didn’t end up the way I’d like (we lost), the trip was meaningful in several ways.
I was able to spend 20 minutes or so with UNLV head men’s basketball coach Dave Rice. Dave and I worked together in the UNLV athletic department back in the 1990s. I also worked with Dave’s wife Mindy. Dave and I were coworkers but we weren’t best buddies or anything. But getting to know him back then, he was always a great guy. As part of the support staff, Dave was always around – first one in, last one out. He was a member of our 1990
National Championship team and a beloved member of the Rebels family. Respectful of your role, personable and seemingly someone who always had time to chat. It’s no wonder why everyone who worked with us back then really liked Dave the guy as well as recognizing the fact he had a bright future as a coach.
Fast forward almost 15 years and there I was reacquainting with Dave after he landed the job most of us know he always wanted.
It was great being able to spend some time with him despite his hectic schedule. I expressed just how proud all of us UNLV and athletic department alumni were that one of our own was now the captain of our ship. As I said to him, it really feels like we’re all part of it and that’s a great feeling after the mess, at times, UNLV basketball has been.
What struck me – and I had been forewarned by mutual friends – was just how little Dave the guy had changed. He had great success in stints as an assistant at both Utah State and then BYU and developed an amazing reputation as a coach and recruiter nationally. This was why he now stood before me as the Runnin’ Rebels top dog. He worked his ass off for years to get back to where he wanted to be and it all worked out. He deserved it and got it. How often these days does that happen?
He hadn’t changed and that made me even more proud. With great success and power, some people lose their way. Not Dave. He’s the same guy and that’s why he’s successful. He appreciates history, loyalty and everyone around him. His success is our success and vice versa. There’s an incredible leadership message and lesson in all of that and we should take heed. A true measure of a man can be assessed when he reaches great success. Dave’s success at UNLV is only beginning. He’s got a lot more ahead of him and there is no doubt he’ll do it with class and a massive amount of hard work.
It’s nice to see a good guy win for once. I’m glad he’s a friend and I’m glad he’s back home where he belongs.
Thanks for being you Dave. Now, about that next National title!