Tim Grgurich was to have been UNLV’s coach for years. He lasted less than five months, physically and emotionally overwhelmed by his return to a place still seemingly haunted from the deep scars of the Jerry Tarkanian era.
Grgurich resigned as UNLV’s basketball coach Friday, saying his hectic pace and the troubles of the past combined to make it impossible for him to continue coaching.
“I’ve reached the point where I can’t sacrifice my physical and mental well-being,” Grgurich told a crowded news conference. “To continue to would put both in jeopardy.”
Grgurich, a former Tarkanian assistant who coached seven games after being hastily hired in October to replace Rollie Massimino, said he had been unable to resolve his bitter feelings about the way he and Tarkanian had been treated by former university administrators.
“I repressed and never talked about my feelings,” he said. “My heart was taken away from me. This caused a real, real medical and mental problem for me.”
Tarkanian attended the Runnin’ Rebels’ practice on Friday and commented on his former assistant’s decision to leave.
“You know nobody works harder than Tim and nobody gives more of himself than Tim,” Tarkanian said. ‘I just think that he just came here with all of the inner frustrations that he had and all of the feelings that he had inside him. It was very, very difficult to overcome.”
UNLV interim president Kenny Guinn said a national search would begin immediately. Guinn praised Grgurich’s brief tenure at UNLV, and said his decision to resign from the $300,000-a-year job was his own.
“I hope we can accept the fact it’s a medical situation,” Guinn said. “If it were cancer and you could see it, you maybe could accept it better than this.”
Grgurich, who left a job as an assistant with the Seattle SuperSonics, was hospitalized Jan. 6 with symptoms of exhaustion after the Runnin’ Rebels opened 2-5.