The fact that another school was looking into Cronin wasn't particularly surprising or particularly nerve-wracking. After all, the Cincinnati native has done incredible things with a Cincinnati program that frankly hasn't always been playing on an even playing field over his 10-year run at the helm, sporting a 207-129 record over that time.
However, the nerves seemed to settle in as the rumors and speculation began to swirl. First Cronin was linked to UNLV. Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn and Cincinnati president Santa J. Ono declined to comment. Cronin has been quiet on the matter and then Cincinnati granted UNLV permission to speak with Cronin.
While many felt, including myself, that Cronin was using this as leverage to ensure that the basketball program is given the resources he needs for continued growth, reports began to come out that the interest was, in fact, mutual and that perhaps Cronin wanted out of Cincinnati. The matter of his salary was initially a major obstacle, with Cronin making up to $2.2 million a year with Cincinnati, but that was later squelched with ESPN's Jeff Goodman citing sources that believe UNLV was willing to shell out as much as $3 million for Cronin's services.
Well, the story just got a bit more nerve-wracking with Mark Anderson, from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, sharing that talks with Cronin were "getting heated" and had reached the University of Nevada Board of Regents where they will decided whether or not to approve a proposed contract offer for Cronin.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal (citing sources), the contract offer is reportedly worth more than $2 million a year, putting it right in line with what Cincinnati currently offers. Now, even if the contract is approved, Cronin will still need to agree to the terms and accept the position before anything becomes final, but there's something about this process that is growing exceedingly uncomfortable.
Cronin taking the UNLV job just doesn't make a whole lot of sense, yet things continue to progress. We can continue to say that Cronin has always been loyal to Cincinnati (the program and the city) and we can continue to argue that this is all a business move and leveraging to gain more sustainable support of the basketball program. We can look at the program at it's current state and point to next year's team being one of the most talented from Cronin's time in Cincinnati and we can argue that the Fifth Third Arena renovations are on their way. We can point to Cronin's Cincinnati-based family that would get shuffled up in a major move such as this.
However, the rumors continue to swirl and things appear to be moving forward. Nothing is set in stone yet and Cronin could (and many argue will) decline the offer and return to Cincinnati, but this is dragging out perhaps a little longer than many anticipated or would like.
I still believe that Cronin will be coaching Cincinnati come next fall/winter, but it would be nice if these rumors would go away. After all, it doesn't quite add up and yet here we are. The coming days will be telling.