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National college basketball news

UNLV offers Kruger big raise and new 5-year deal

UNLV has offered men's basketball coach Lon Kruger a contract that would guarantee him $5.2 million over the next five years.

The contract extension, which needs approval from the Nevada System of Higher Education regents, comes after Kruger, a former University of Illinois coach, led the Rebels to a 30-7 season. UNLV reached the NCAA Tournament's round of 16 for the first time in 16 years.

The five-year deal would provide a big raise from Kruger's current contract, which had three years remaining.

Kruger earned $824,500 for the 2006-07 season, including a base salary of $165,000, media appearance fees of $300,000 and public appearance fees of $284,500. He also received a $25,000 bonus for qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, and an additional $25,000 for each postseason victory over Georgia Tech and Wisconsin.

Former Vols coach Mears dies

Ray Mears, the Tennessee basketball coach who presided over the "Ernie and Bernie show" during his 15 seasons guiding the Volunteers, died Monday. He was 80.

Mears, the winningest men's coach in school history, had been in declining health for some time, university spokesman John Painter said.

In the mid-1970s, Mears coached future NBA players Ernie Grunfeld and Bernard King. Mears' teams went 278-112 at Tennessee between 1962 and 1978.

"He was a great leader, innovator and an extremely competitive person," Grunfeld said Monday. "He taught me about hard work, dedication and loyalty - lessons that have stayed with me my whole life. He encouraged us to not only be good basketball players but also to be good human beings."

Under Mears, the Vols won or shared Southeastern Conference titles in 1967, 1972 and 1977. The 1967 championship was the school's first in 24 years.

Ex-TCU coach Killingsworth dies

Jim Killingsworth, who took over a struggling TCU basketball team in the 1980s and coached the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tournament, has died. He was 83.

Killingsworth died Sunday of complications from a stroke last month at his home in Owasso, Okla., the university said.

When he arrived in 1979, TCU had won just three of its previous 48 Southwest Conference games. His teams stead-ily improved and in 1986 qualified for the NIT, where the Horned Frogs fell in the second round to Florida. In 1987, Killingsworth's winningest team made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament but lost to Notre Dame.

Killingsworth retired after that season, with a 130-106 record in eight seasons.

UC San Diego tabs UCLA aide

Chris Carlson, who spent four seasons working for Ben Howland at UCLA, was hired as the head coach at UC San Diego on Monday.

Carlson takes over for Bill Carr, who left to become an assistant at the University of San Diego after posting a 38-45 record in three seasons at UCSD, a Division II school. The Tritons were 12-15 last season and return all but one player.

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