Theus, 47, has agreed in principle to take the job, but still needs to sign the contract.
Theus has been an assistant coach under Rick Pitino the past two seasons. A former UNLV guard in the 70's, Theus has never been a Division I head coach. He was the head coach for the ABA's Las Vegas Slam and was an assistant for one season at Division II Cal State-Los Angeles.
Theus replaces interim coach Tony Stubblefield, who took over when Lou Henson retired for health reasons earlier this season.
New Mexico State will leave the Sun Belt Conference and join the WAC for the 2005-06 season.