UNLV guard Anderson Hunt cited financial reasons for passing up his senior season with the Runnin' Rebels, but Coach Jerry Tarkanian thinks the NCAA may also be to blame.
Tarkanian said Hunt's decision to apply for the NBA draft wouldn't have been made if UNLV hadn't been banned from next season's postseason tournament and live television."If we were in the tournament, there's no question he'd be back," Tarkanian said. "There's no doubt in my mind about it."
Hunt, a UNLV junior, confirmed Wednesday he had submitted his name for the draft, a decision that means UNLV has lost all its returning starters from the team that went 34-1 this past season, losing to Duke in the national semifinals.
The sanctions against UNLV were imposed as part of a settlement of Tarkanian's battle with the NCAA that began when it tried to suspend him from coaching in 1977. The basketball program also faces possible additional sanctions from an ongoing probe into more recent recruiting violations.
Hunt, the 1990 Final Four MVP and an all-tournament selection this year, released a statement through his attorney saying he had submitted his name to the NBA to be eligible for the draft.
The NBA had planned to release the names of underclassmen who declared themselves eligible for the draft Wednesday, but a spokesman said it would be today before the names are released.
In the statement, Hunt said his family's financial situation was the "primary factor" in his decision to pass up his senior year.
Hunt, who had not been seen around the UNLV campus in recent weeks, said he waited to announce his decision until he had a chance to meet with Tarkanian.
That didn't happen, although Hunt phoned Tarkanian Wednesday and the two had a lengthy chat.
"He said it was a real hard decision and that he didn't talk to anybody but his family about it," Tarkanian said. "The reason he didn't talk to us is he had a hard enough time making a decision."
Hunt joins teammates Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Greg Anthony and George Ackles in the draft.