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Former Tennessee Assistant Rob Lanier Takes New Job After SMU Firing

KNOXVILLE, TN – DECEMBER 15, 2016 – Tennessee Volunteers Assistant Coach Rob Lanier during the game between the Lipscomb Bisons and the Tennessee Volunteers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

Former Tennessee assistant coach Rob Lanier will be staying in the Lone Star State after being let go from his job at SMU last Thursday.

According to a social media post on Sunday evening, Lanier is being picked up by Rice and is set to be the next head coach of the Owls’ program.

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Lanier spent several years working under the Rick Barnes coaching tree as both an assistant at Texas and Tennessee.

Lanier first joined the Texas program after Barnes’ first year in Austin before the 1999 season. The New York City native stayed with the Longhorns for two seasons before taking his first head coaching job with Sienna before the 2001 season. After a pair of stops as an assistant coach with Virginia and Florida, Lanier would reunite with Barnes in Austin. Lanier rejoined the Texas staff from 2011 to 2015 and then joined Barnes’ first Tennessee staff that same year.

Lanier was named the associate head coach on Barnes’ first Tennessee staff from 2015 to 2019 and coached Volunteers stars such as Kevin Punter, Lamonte Turner, Robert Hubbs, Admiral Schofield, Grant Williams, John Fulkerson, and several more over that span.

Lanier was named the head coach of Georgia State in April 2019 and was there for three seasons. Lanier previously was the head coach at SMU for the past two seasons before he was fired on March 21, 2024.

Lanier’s SMU Mustangs went 20-13 overall this past season with a fifth-place finish in the AAC with 11 wins and seven losses in conference play. Lanier coached former Tennessee guard and Knoxville native B.J. Edwards this past season, who ended the year averaging 3.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 33 games with 30 starts this past season. Lanier’s dismissal from SMU this season came as a surprise to many but not to others with a jump to the ACC looming.

The Owls are in the American Athletic Conference and went 11-21, 5-13 AAC during the 2023-2024 season. Lanier’s Mustangs defeated Rice in their one and only matchup this past season, 95-69.

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