March 24, 2024

Houston, TX - Rice Vice President and Director of Athletics Tommy McClelland announced on Sunday that Rob Lanier has been named the 26th head men's basketball coach at Rice.   

Lanier will be formally introduced at a press conference on Tuesday, March 26 at 2:30 PM where fans can watch live on YouTube and the ESPN+ platform.

Lanier brings more than 30 years of experience as a collegiate coach, including nine seasons as a head coach at Siena, Georgia State, and SMU.  His teams have made 12 NCAA Tournaments and earned 20 total postseason bids. Those teams combined for five conference titles, three regular season championships and two tournament crowns, plus five more trips to a league tournament final. 

This past season at SMU, he led the Mustangs to a 20-13 record, including an 11-7 in the American Athletic Conference and the second seed in the AAC Championship.  SMU saw a nine-game improvement in its overall record and more than doubled its win total in the conference this past season.  One of those conference wins was a 95-69 win over Rice at Tudor Fieldhouse on February 4.

Lanier came to SMU after posting a 53-30 record in three seasons at Georgia State, capped by a Sun Belt tournament championship in 2022 and a berth in the NCAA Championship.  He led the Panthers to the SBC tournament championship game in each of his last two years.

Before he arrived at Georgia State, Lanier spent eight seasons as associate head coach to Rick Barnes, four at Tennessee (2015-19) preceded by four at Texas (2011-15). The Volunteers went 26-9 in 2017-18, sharing the SEC title and making the second round of the NCAA Tournament. They followed with a 31-6 campaign that saw Tennessee rise to No. 1 in the national polls and reach the NCAA Sweet 16. The Longhorns made the postseason all four seasons, making three trips to the NCAA Tournament. 

He first served as an assistant coach under Barnes at Texas from 1999-2001, helping guide the Longhorns to a two-year mark of 49-18 (.731) and a pair of NCAA Tournaments. Texas posted a 24-9 record in 1999-2000, finished second in the Big 12 with a 13-3 league mark, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. He played a major role in the recruitment of T.J. Ford, who went on to earn National Player of the Year honors with the Longhorns in 2002-03.

Lanier served as assistant coach under Billy Donovan at Florida for four seasons (2007-11). In those four years, Lanier helped the Gators advance to postseason play every year while posting a 99-44 (.692) cumulative record. Florida was 29-8 in 2010-11, won the SEC regular-season championship (13-3) and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight.

He had a two-year stint as an assistant coach on Dave Leitao's coaching staff at Virginia (2005-07). During his second year in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers posted a 21-11 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Despite being picked to finish eighth in the conference, Virginia registered an 11-5 mark in league play and claimed a share of the ACC regular-season championship. It marked the first league title for the Cavaliers since 1994-95.

Lanier joined Leitao's staff after four years as the head coach at Siena from 2001-05. During that span, the Saints advanced to one NCAA Tournament and one NIT. Siena won the MAAC Tournament in 2002 and then defeated Alcorn State in an NCAA Tournament opening-round game before losing to eventual national champion Maryland in the first round. The following season, Lanier guided Siena to a 21-11 record, earning a bid to the NIT.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Lanier graduated from St. Bonaventure in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in psychology. A four-year letterman with the Bonnies who scored 868 career points, he was a three-year starter and team captain during his senior season. Lanier earned Atlantic-10 Conference All-Freshman Team honors in 1986-87 and was named the team's Most Improved Player in 1988-89. A two-time scholar-athlete nominee, he went on to earn a master's degree in educational counseling from Niagara in 1993.

Lanier and his wife, Dr. Dayo Lanier, have a son, Emory, who played for him at SMU for the past two seasons, and a daughter, Kai, who is a student at SMU. Lanier's cousin, the late Bob Lanier, is enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Bob Lanier led St. Bonaventure to the NCAA Final Four in 1970 before embarking on a 14-year NBA career that included eight All-Star selections.