BROOKINGS, SD (UNLVrebels.com & GoJacks.com) – T.J. Otzelberger has been appointed the new head coach of the UNLV’s men’s basketball program, Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois announced today. Otzelberger comes to UNLV after most recently serving as head coach at South Dakota State University, leading the Jackrabbits to two NCAA Tournaments and one NIT appearance in his three years at the helm.
Otzelberger will be formally introduced to the Las Vegas community on Thursday, March 28 at 2:00 p.m. in Thomas & Mack Center’s Strip View Pavilion.
“When I set out to find the next coach of our Runnin’ Rebels,” Reed-Francois said, “I sought a hard-working, laser-focused head coach who personifies our core values; who knows what success looks like; who is passionately committed to winning; and who is at ease with being the face of our storied basketball program. T.J. exemplifies these attributes. I am confident he is the right coach to bring the Runnin’ Rebels into a new era of preeminence and we welcome T.J., Alison, Jayce, Olivia, and Stella to the UNLV Family.”
Otzelberger lifted the program at South Dakota State to new heights during his three year tenure (2016-2019), where he compiled an overall record of 70-33, led the Jackrabbits to three straight postseason appearances, clinched the outright regular season Summit League title the past two seasons, and earned the league’s Coach of the Year honors. Prior to SDSU, Otzelberger served two separate stints as an assistant coach at Iowa State, covering eight seasons, as well as serving as an assistant at the University of Washington.
“I have been fortunate to coach at some amazing universities and it was going to take a very special opportunity to leave Brookings,” Otzelberger said. “UNLV basketball is one of the most storied programs in the nation and situated in one of the world’s greatest cities. I’m honored to have the opportunity to add to the Runnin’ Rebels’ rich history and my family and I could not be more proud to be the newest members of this world-class university and Las Vegas community.”
A native of Milwaukee, WI, Otzelberger earned a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he played collegiately and was a two-year team captain.
“Coach Otzelberger is a rising star in coaching and a proven winner whose teams have performed at a high level, both academically and in competition,” said UNLV President Marta Meana. “I’m impressed by Coach Otzelberger’s immediate and long-term vision for the program and his commitment to player development at all levels. Runnin’ Rebel basketball has a rich history and a very bright future, and we look forward to welcoming Coach Otzelberger and his family to UNLV.”
Eric Henderson, who served as an assistant coach for the past three seasons, has been promoted to head coach, SDSU Director of Athletics Justin Sell announced Wednesday evening.
“Eric has been a big part of the success that we have had at South Dakota State,” Sell said. “His energy and enthusiasm for the game, and for the student-athletes he coaches, are infectious. He is a tremendous teacher and no doubt is prepared to lead our men’s basketball program to continued success.”
Henderson said, “It is an honor to be selected as the next head coach at South Dakota State and to continue to work with an exceptional group of student-athletes, coaches and administrators who have high expectations. “Through our hard work, we will make Jackrabbit Nation proud of the product on the floor, performance in the classroom and the impact we can make in the community.”
Longtime assistant coach Rob Klinkefus also has been promoted to associate head coach.
In remaining at SDSU, Henderson will be a head coach for the first time at the collegiate level. He began his coaching career as an assistant at Wayne State (NE) from 2001-03 and returned to the collegiate ranks as an assistant at North Dakota State from 2014-16 after coaching in the prep ranks in Wisconsin. Henderson was elevated to associate head coach at SDSU prior to the 2018-19 season.
With Henderson on staff, the Jackrabbits compiled a 70-33 overall record, including a 35-11 mark in Summit League play, over the past three seasons. SDSU made postseason appearances each season, starting with back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2017 and 2018, followed by an NIT bid in 2019 after winning the Summit League regular season title for the second year in a row.
The Jackrabbits have held one of the top home-court advantages in Division I men’s basketball, combining for a 40-3 record at Frost Arena over the past three seasons. SDSU put together a 21-game home-court winning streak from January 2017 until December 2018.
Henderson will be the 22nd head coach in SDSU men’s basketball history, dating back to the program’s inception in 1903.