Moon Township, Pa. - Director of Athletics Craig Coleman, M.D., announced Tuesday that Robert Morris University and head men's basketball coach Mike Rice have agreed to a three-year contract extension. Rice, who signed a five-year contract when he was hired in April of 2007 and had that contract extended one year after the 2007-08 campaign, is now signed with RMU through the 2015-16 season.
"I'm extremely excited about the direction of our program and that the University administration has the belief in me to continue with our success," Rice said. "I'd like to thank University President Dr. Greg Dell'Omo, Athletic Director Craig Coleman and the University student body, faculty, staff and fan base for the support they've showed our program over the last two years."
In two seasons under Rice the Colonials have witnessed unprecedented success, as Robert Morris has posted an overall record of 50-19 (.725) over the last two years and earned a pair of postseason bids. The 50 wins is the most over a two-year span in school and Northeast Conference history, while RMU's record of 31-5 (.861) against league foes is second in league history to Marist's 28-4 (.875) run over the course of the 1986-87 and 1987-88 seasons.
"Under Rice's leadership our men's basketball program has reached new heights and brought a lot of attention to Robert Morris University," Coleman said. "He has been a great coach, a great representative of the University and a great campus presence. We hope he'll be the face of Colonial men's basketball for years to come."
In Rice's first season at the helm in 2007-08, the Colonials finished with an overall record of 26-8 and advanced to their first appearance in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), where RMU dropped an 87-81 decision at Syracuse (3/18/08). Robert Morris claimed its first NEC regular-season title since 1992 with a 16-2 league mark in 2008 while establishing 13 school records, including new standards for victories, NEC wins, consecutive wins (14), road victories (14) and consecutive road wins (10).
Robert Morris followed the success it had in its first season under Rice by winning its league-record sixth NEC Tournament title and subsequent bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2009, the first for each for the program since 1992. The Colonials appeared in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed in the Midwest Region, where they fell to No. 2 seed and eventual national runner-up Michigan State, 77-62, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. RMU finished with an overall record of 24-11 in 2008-09, including a ledger of 15-3 in the NEC to claim its second straight regular-season crown.
"Mike Rice has had incredible success on the court, providing the campus with many thrilling moments, including this year's appearance in the NCAA Tournament," Dell'Omo said. "More importantly, he has been a true leader and role model, not only to his players but to the campus community at large."
Rice was named the NEC Jim Phelan Coach of the Year in each of the past two seasons, joining Rider's Kevin Bannon as the only coaches in NEC history to be voted Jim Phelan Coach of the Year in each of their first two years in the conference.
Other notable achievements in Rice's time at Robert Morris include an NEC record 15-game road winning streak against conference foes, a win over ACC opponent Boston College during the 2007-08 campaign and votes in the Associated Press Top 25 Men's Basketball Poll in each of the last two years. Under Rice's watch, four different Colonials have earned All-NEC honors, while RMU has earned each of the last two NEC Player of the Year honorees in former guards Tony Lee (2008) and Jeremy Chappell (2009).
Rice brought to Robert Morris a vast background in collegiate coaching, having served as an assistant coach at alma mater Fordham (1991-94), Marquette (1994-97), Niagara (1997-98), Chicago State (1998-2001), Saint Joseph's (2004-06) and Pittsburgh (2006-07).
A 1991 graduate of Fordham, Rice was a three-year starter for the Rams at guard. He appeared in 117 career games, serving as team captain of a 1990-91 squad that posted an overall record of 25-8, including an 11-1 mark in the Patriot League. That season Fordham earned an appearance in the NIT, and Rice's 152 assists rank as the sixth highest single-season total in school history.
Rice earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from Fordham in 1991. A native of Pittsburgh, Rice and his wife Kerry have two children, son Michael and daughter Katie.