Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin is officially back with the Bearcats for the foreseeable future after rejecting a job offer from UNLV. This comes after Cronin spent much of the week in Las Vegas meeting with UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy and other Runnin' Rebels officials about their current head coach opening.
I am thrilled to say Mick Cronin will remain our coach at the University of Cincinnati.— Santa J. Ono (@PrezOno) March 25, 2016
Cincinnati Bearcats (@GoBEARCATS) March 25, 2016
Cronin makes the decision to return to Clifton after UNLV pulled out all the stops to court the Cincinnati native and Bearcats coach of 10 seasons. UNLV had a contract offer that was expected to match, or surpass, Cincinnati's current base salary of $1.8 million ($2.2 million with incentives). Additionally, Under Armour jumped in, offering an additional $1 million annually so UA could branch out west with Cronin, potentially bringing the projected offer for Cronin up to around $3 million.
The money, while significant alone, didn't appear to be the crux of the issue for Cronin though. Frustrations with the lack of support from the Cincinnati athletic department have been reported as the motivating factor for Cronin's trip out west. UNLV, after all, is a basketball school first and foremost with resources dedicated to the program that Cincinnati has lacked to this point. While it remains to be seen what athletic director Mike Bohn and Cronin settled on, or discussed, to ultimately get Cronin back in the fold, Cincinnati got their guy.
The entire situation seemed to take a life of it's own, starting last weekend, almost immediately following the conclusion of Cincinnati's 76-78 loss to Saint Joseph's in the first round of the NCAA tournament. At first, many felt Cronin was using UNLV for leverage, but as more news broke, it became clear that Cronin was serious about the Runnin' Rebels, even if he ended up back home. Cronin expressed as much in a statement released by Cincinnati Friday afternoon.
"I would like people to try and understand after 10 years of dedicated service I chose to evaluate my career and my life," Cronin said. "Reflecting through that process was extremely difficult, but it was something I needed to do for me personally. The city of Cincinnati and the University are special places to me and I’ve always said what an honor it is to be the head coach at my alma mater. This program has come such a long way in 10 years and we’ve still got work to do and goals to achieve. The 2016-17 season starts for me today and I can’t wait for the future that lies ahead for the Bearcats and this University."
While some continue to argue that Cronin has reached his peak at the program, Cronin's return brings some stability that would be sorely missed with his departure. With Cronin back, Cincinnati can begin looking forward to an exciting future, starting with the 2016-17 season as Troy Caupain, Gary Clark and Jacob Evans headline the returning lineup with high-recruited Jarron Cumberland entering the fray as well.
Cronin has a 207-129 record with the Bearcats over his 10 seasons in Clifton. After an impressive six-straight NCAA tournament appearances, his challenge is getting past the opening weekend of tourney play and making a deep run, but perhaps that's for another discussion.
Hey, at least this is over, right?