WSU hoops search closing in or blowing up?

LEON RICE has extended his contract with Boise State, ESPN reported late Friday. The news capped a whirlwind day of developments in which sources confirmed Rice had interviewed with athletic director Bill Moos for the vacant WSU head coaching job, and WSU president Elson Floyd told the school's Board of Regents that an offer had been made to a candidate, but he didn't disclose the name.

It is not known if Rice was extended a contract offer by Moos, but ESPN said Rice "decided to stay with the Broncos and accept a pay raise instead of continuing talks with Washington State." Rice is a WSU graduate and Richland native who developed a reputation as a strong recruiter when he was an assistant coach at Gonzaga. He added to that reputation, especially in overseas recruiting, while guiding Boise State to 20-win seasons in three of his four seasons with the Broncos.

Moos has stressed the need for WSU's next coach to be a strong recruiter. Ken Bone, fired last week after five years with the Cougars, struggled with recruiting.

Moos has repeatedly declined to name candidates for the coaching job, but Rice's decision to bow out figures to put renewed focus on former Oregon coach Ernie Kent. Another name speculated to be on Moos' short list is former WSU coach Kelvin Sampson, but he is reportedly well into talks with the University of Houston about taking their open position.

Rice made $480,000 this season at Boise State. He is due a 3 percent increase next season. Moos has indicated he would be willing to pay WSU's new coach $1 million or more. Moos was highly complimentary of Rice during an interview last week.

Boise State finished 21-13 this season. Rice, citing the team's long list of injuries during the season, chose not to play in minor post-season tournaments after being turned down by the NIT following Boise State's loss to eventual champion New Mexico in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament.

Rice graduated from WSU in 1986. He did not play sports for the Cougars, but did play football at Spokane Falls Community College before transferring.

Cougfan Top Stories