Pittsburgh -- Director of Athletics Craig Coleman announced Friday that Robert Morris University has extended the contract of head men's basketball coach Mike Rice. Rice, who agreed to a three-year contract extension last April, is now signed through the 2016-17 season.
"Having seen tremendous growth in our program in recent years, I'm excited about the possibilities of how much farther we can take it, especially with the support the administration is showing us," Rice said. "Not only is the support of our administration an important element, but our students and alumni have been incredible to us the last three seasons. The recent success of mid-major programs like Butler, Gonzaga and Cornell has proven any program can compete at the highest level, and with the support we're receiving from our administration, there's no reason why that can't happen here."
In three seasons under Rice's tutelage, the Colonials have posted an overall record of 73-31 (.702), including a mark of 46-8 (.852) against Northeast Conference opponents. RMU has claimed three straight NEC regular-season championships, including outright titles in 2008 and 2009 and a share of the 2010 championship with Quinnipiac.
Robert Morris claimed its second straight NEC Tournament championship and subsequent berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2010 thanks to a 52-50 win at Quinnipiac in the championship game at TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn., March 10, 2010. RMU became the first team to win back-to-back NEC Tournament titles since Rider in 1993 and 1994.
In the 2010 NCAA Tournament as part of the South Regional at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, R.I., the Colonials almost upset No. 2 seed Villanova before falling in overtime, 73-70. Freshman guard Karon Abraham (Paterson, N.J. / Harp Academy), the 2010 NEC Rookie of the Year and the 2010 NEC Tournament MVP, tied a career high with 23 points against the Wildcats, converting five three-pointers.
"We are obviously thrilled that Coach Rice will continue to lead the men's basketball program at Robert Morris University," Coleman said. "He has taken our program to new heights each year, improving on what he has already accomplished from one season to the next. There is no doubt that we will continue to see that progress in the foreseeable future. This extension confirms our commitment to Coach Rice as well as our commitment to elevate our program to even greater heights."
Since the beginning of the 2007-08 season, RMU ranks tied for third in Division I for most victories against conference opposition (46) and tied for seventh in winning percentage (.852) against league foes. Both marks are tied with Siena of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). In addition, the record book at Robert Morris has been rewritten under Rice's watch, with a total of 50 team and individual records established, including 22 single-season team marks.
"We are proud of the commitment that Mike Rice and his coaching staff have made to Robert Morris University, which will become a program that can compete at the highest levels of Division I basketball," RMU President Dr. Gregory G. Dell'Omo said. "The men's basketball team, and Mike's leadership, have made invaluable contributions to student life and school spirit here at RMU."
Rice was named the NEC Jim Phelan Coach of the Year in both 2008 and 2009, 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. In 2010, he was named the NEC Coach of the Year by CollegeInsider.com.
Other notable achievements in Rice's time at Robert Morris include an NEC record 15-game road winning streak against conference foes over the course of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, a win over ACC opponent Boston College during the 2007-08 campaign and votes in the Associated Press Top 25 Men's Basketball Poll.
Four different Colonials have earned All-NEC honors a total of five times under Rice's leadership, while RMU has earned five major individual postseason awards from the NEC, including two NEC Player of the Year honorees in former guards Tony Lee (2008) and Jeremy Chappell (2009), the last two NEC Defensive Player of the Year award winners in Bateko Francisco (2009) and Mezie Nwigwe (2010) and the 2010 NEC Rookie of the Year in Abraham.
Thanks to RMU's recent run of success over the last three years with Rice leading the program, the Colonials own NEC records for most victories over a two, three, four and five-year time span. Robert Morris posted 50 wins from 2007 to 2009, 73 victories from 2007 to 2010, 90 wins from 2006 to 2010 and 105 victories from 2005 to 2010.
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.