The future of Nevada men’s basketball coach David Carter might not be decided by this year’s lack of a postseason, but rather by the athletic department’s budget.
The administrative offices inside of Legacy Hall have seen an incredible amount of turnover within the past two years. Of course, there is the high-profile example of football coach Chris Ault stepping down, but the retirement of baseball coach Gary Powers last spring was also something new — Powers had coached the Wolf Pack for a record-breaking 31 seasons. Athletic director Doug Knuth has been at the center of these changes since he was hired last spring and now will have a tough decision to make with the recent lack of success by the men’s basketball team. Although the decision will not be Knuth’s alone.
Carter’s record with the Wolf Pack over five seasons as the head coach sits at 89-74, with only two postseason appearances (both appearances at the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in 2010 and 2012). He is under contract for the next three years, and according to the Reno Gazette-Journal’s Chris Murray, would require a $900,000 buyout if Carter was let go. With the contracts given to Knuth (base salary of $285,000, with bonuses tallying $70,000) and head football coach Brian Polian ($535,000 with the ability to make $260,000 more in bonuses) the athletic department has already shelled out more money than it ever has before. Getting rid of Carter and then finding a suitable replacement would be a tremendous financial strain on UNR.
While fans are clamoring for a turnaround in the basketball team’s fortunes, the change won’t happen overnight. Although losing star point guard Deonte Burton will hurt Nevada, there is a nucleus of players that have experienced a significant amount of time against Mountain West opponents. Carter will have eight players returning next season: three starters, including key role players Marqueze Coleman and D.J. Fenner. Also, an early run in conference play this season (7-2) and sweeping UNLV for the first time in nearly 20 years both show that there are positives to take away from this season.
The head coach has been with Nevada for over 15 seasons in total, and while he has not matched the success of his predecessors, Mark Fox and Trent Johnson, neither of those two had to deal with playing in the Mountain West, week-in and week-out.
While Knuth has yet to comment on the security of Carter’s job, due to it being a staffing issue, he has expressed his desire for the team to get better.
“To go from 3-13 and to get to where we are right now with a couple of guys injured who we thought would be impactful, we’re not in a terrible situation,” Knuth said earlier this year when commenting on Carter’s future. “Do we have to get better? Absolutely.”
Nevada is still acclimating to the Mountain West, and despite losing Burton, the bottom line will ultimately decide the future of Carter, at least for one more season.
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