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Mick Cronin to remain at Cincinnati, yet UNLV says he accepted its offer

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Why did Cronin come back to Cincinnati? (1:50)

ESPN college basketball Insider Jeff Goodman breaks down Mick Cronin's decision to spurn an offer from UNLV and remain the coach at Cincinnati. (1:50)

Mick Cronin is staying put as Cincinnati's coach despite UNLV's contention that he accepted its job offer to coach the Rebels.

Cronin traveled to Las Vegas earlier this week to meet with UNLV officials, including athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy. On Friday, Kunzer-Murphy told ESPN 1100 that Cronin "said he would take" the job.

Not so, Cronin told ESPN's Jeff Goodman.

"I never officially accepted. The interest was flattering and I understand these things are difficult for everyone," the coach said in a text after announcing he would continue on as Cincinnati coach.

"I would like people to try and understand after 10 years of dedicated service I chose to evaluate my career and my life," Cronin said in a statement released by the school. "Reflecting through that process was extremely difficult, but it was something I needed to do for me personally.

"The city of Cincinnati and the university are special places to me and I've always said what an honor it is to be the head coach at my alma mater. This program has come such a long way in 10 years and we've still got work to do and goals to achieve. The 2016-17 season starts for me today and I can't wait for the future that lies ahead for the Bearcats and this university."

Kunzer-Murphy also put out a statement Friday.

"We brought Mick Cronin to Las Vegas to meet about our men's basketball head-coaching vacancy. We appreciate his interest in the position, but he is no longer a candidate as we understand he will be staying at Cincinnati. We wish him all the best."

UNLV wants its search to be completed by the Final Four, she said.

Cronin, 44, has been with the Bearcats for 10 seasons. He was 185-118 at Cincinnati heading into this season, and then went 22-11 in 2015-16. The Bearcats reached the NCAA tournament in each of the last six seasons, making a Sweet 16 appearance in 2012.

"Mick Cronin has done the tough job of rebuilding our Bearcats program, and I am thrilled to hear he will be returning next year," university president Dr. Santa Ono said. "I know he is hungry to build on the success of the past 10 years and our six straight appearances in the NCAA tournament."

"It's important to me and the University of Cincinnati to sustain continuity with Mick Cronin leading our storied men's basketball program," Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn said. "I salute what Mick has built in his first decade at UC as he was and is the catalyst for the prominent growth around the program. Together, along with our donors, fans, students and supporters, we remain on an onward trajectory for long-term success."

Prior to taking over for Andy Kennedy -- who was the interim replacement for Bob Huggins -- at Cincinnati, Cronin spent three seasons as the head coach at Murray State, making two NCAA tournament appearances. Cronin was also an assistant coach under Rick Pitino at Louisville after starting his coaching career as an assistant under Huggins at Cincinnati.

Cronin missed most of the 2014-15 season after being diagnosed with a vascular condition known as arterial dissection. He complained about headaches during December 2014, when doctors discovered an unruptured aneurysm. Cronin still ran the program, but was not able to coach practices or games. He was cleared to fully resume coaching duties in March 2015.

Cronin had signed a seven-year contract extension in June 2014 that runs through the 2020-21 season.