Gonzaga associate head coach Leon Rice has accepted an offer to become the head men’s basketball coach at Boise State, multiple sources confirmed Thursday.
Rice joined Gonzaga’s staff shortly after Mark Few was promoted from assistant coach to head coach in 1999. Rice was promoted to associate head coach in 2007.
Rice was offered the BSU job Wednesday night and accepted the position Thursday afternoon, sources said. He will replace Greg Graham, who was fired after compiling a 142-112 record in eight years. The Broncos were 15-17 this season and averaged just 3,061 fans per home game.
Under Graham, BSU advanced to the postseason three times: one NCAA tournament, one NIT and one CBI. Graham’s annual salary was $362,500.
Rice was one of at least three candidates to interview at Boise State. The others were Portland head coach Eric Reveno and former Montana coach Larry Krystkowiak.
Rice is the second assistant coach from Few’s staff to land a head coaching position. Bill Grier took over as head coach at San Diego three years ago. Rice turned down an offer to become the University of Idaho’s head coach in 2006.
Rice was generally considered the favorite to be the next head coach at Gonzaga if Few were to move on to another job. With Rice accepting the BSU job, it could be an indication that Few, who is reportedly high on Oregon’s list of candidates, plans on staying at Gonzaga.
Rice was apparently en route to Boise with his family for an official press conference that could come as early as today. Rice didn’t return phone messages Wednesday or Thursday.
Rice entered the coaching profession in 1987 as an assistant for the Pasco High boys team. He was on Don Monson’s staff at Oregon from 1988-92. After three seasons assisting at Northern Colorado, Rice became an assistant at Yakima Valley College in 1995. He was YVC’s co-head coach with Dean Nicholson in 1998 and was the head coach in 1999, leading Yakima Valley to a school-record 31 wins.