LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It was almost 30 years ago that UNLV paid a football coach more than $100,000 for the first time. Since then, the checkbook has opened up — without significant results.

UNLV fired head coach Marcus Arroyo on Monday, ending his short shift at the helm of a program that has seen only a dozen coaches in 54 years of existence. Arroyo’s $1.5 million salary was a reach for respectability when UNLV hired him for the 2020 season. Now it’s just looking like an ill-advised investment.

A look at Rebel coaches’ salaries over the years shows a steep climb over the past two decades:

When the program was founded, the Nevada Legislature allocated a grand total of $15,000. Even in 1968, that wasn’t much to work with. But the school’s first football coach, Bill Ireland, is credited with spearheading an effort that raised another $200,000, and the Rebels were off and running. Ireland left after the 1972 season with a 26-23-1 record.

Ron Meyer coached for the next three seasons, and went on to success at Southern Methodist University, the Baltimore Colts and the New England Patriots. His teams earned a 27-8 record (.771 win percentage), marking UNLV’s high point.

Tony Knapp took over for Meyer in 1976, and led the Rebels to a 47-20-2 record over six years, including a 9-1-2 record in 1979.

Then, disaster. Four years under Harvey Hyde (1982-1985) ended in criminal investigations of players and damaged the football program severely. The Rebels were terrific on the field in 1984, posting the school’s only 10-win season (11-2) under Randall Cunningham. But the record books show 0-13, because the NCAA determined several players were ineligible. The team’s 1983 record, 7-4, became 0-11. Hyde’s four-year record: 8-37-1 — a .185 win percentage. Hyde was making $62,000 a year, and the Rebels looked for a real change in direction.

UNLV turned to Wayne Nunnely, who was a former Rebel player and an assistant coach under Hyde. The Rebels bounced back, but they only broke .500 once under Nunnely — a 6-5 record 1986.

Since then, the team has only had four winning seasons: In 1992 (6-5) under Jim Strong, in 1994 (7-5) under Jeff Horton, in 2000 (8-5) under John Robinson and in 2013 (7-6) under Bobby Hauck. The Rebels have had only two winning seasons since joining the Mountain West Conference in 1999.

But the money paid to coaches has grown. UNLV tried to jump back into contention by attracting Arroyo with a $1.5 million per year contract that includes raises. Arroyo will continue to be paid out for the remainder of his contract which will be approximately $2.3 million, according to Athletic Director Erick Harper.

Big contracts for Arroyo and UNLV basketball coach T.J. Otzelberger ($1.2 million per year) were signed while Desiree Reed-Francois was athletic director. After Otzelberger left for Iowa State, UNLV paid his successor, Kevin Kruger, a $750,000 base salary.