Rice, a Richland native who graduated from Washington State, replaces the fired Greg Graham.
“It’s a great opportunity for him and his family,” said Ray Giacoletti, a Gonzaga assistant coach. “He’s extremely deserving.”
After Mark Few was promoted to head coach at Gonzaga in the summer of 1999, Few quickly hired Rice as an assistant. The Bulldogs have played in the NCAA tournament every year since.
“He’s played a huge part in what Gonzaga has been able to do,” Giacoletti said.
Rice, known for his outgoing personality, has been a key recruiter for Gonzaga.
Rice, a former Oregon and Northern Colorado assistant, posted a 31-2 record at Yakima Valley (junior) College in 1998-99 in his only season as a head coach by himself. He was co-head coach at Yakima Valley in 1997-98.
Graham was fired after eight seasons at Boise State. The Broncos finished this season 15-17 .
Hewitt turns down St. John’s
Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt withdrew Thursday from consideration to be St. John’s next basketball coach.
Hewitt is from the New York City area and is known as an outstanding recruiter. The Red Storm hoped that he could tap into the high school talent in the five boroughs that St. John’s in recent years hasn’t been able to keep from losing to programs such as Connecticut and Cincinnati.
Hewitt is 177-144 at Tech, including 67-93 in the ACC in 10 seasons as the Jackets’ coach.
New Auburn coach Tony Barbee, pledging to take the program “to heights it’s never been before,” has been given a six-year contract worth $1.5 million annually. … Tom Pecora, a New York native and the coach at Hofstra the past nine seasons, was introduced as Fordham’s new coach. … Thomas Young had 15 points as Indiana (Pa.) held off St. Cloud State, 76-70, in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II tournament in Springfield, Mass. The Crimson Hawks (33-2) advanced to Saturday’s title game to face Cal Poly-Pomona (27-6) a 71-63 winner over Bentley.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.