Las Vegas Sun

July 29, 2021

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New AD needs to embrace Larry Johnson

I like all three names that I hear in regards to the permanent UNLV athletic director’s job.

Jerry Koloskie, the interim, I’ve always liked. He’s really good. And I like Steve Stallworth, at the South Point. I thought he did a great job at the Orleans. And I like Tina Kunzer-Murphy, the Las Vegas Bowl director.

They’re all very good.

They’re all a thousand times better than Dennis Finfrock. Having gone through Finfrock, it’s not hard to like other people.

The best athletic director I’ve ever been around, and I was very fortunate, was when I first went to Long Beach State – Dr. Fred Miller was great. I loved him.

I always thought he’d be the best, that I’d never have one like him.

Then along came Brad Rothermel at UNLV. It’s hard to comprehend how good Brad was. He had no ego, he was a hard worker and all he cared about was helping people.

If you went to Brad … so many (athletic directors) right away answer, No! We can’t do that! When you’d talk to Brad, the first thing he’d say is, We’ll see if we can make it work. You’d sit down and come up with different possibilities.

Sometimes he’d say, Jerry, I don’t think this is feasible. But you’d understand it. You’d finish and know why it couldn’t work.

Finfrock was not an athletic director. He was a destroyer. He just tried to destroy. His job was to destroy, not to build. That’s what he did.

I went from two of the best ADs you could ever have to the very worst, so I have a great understanding of it.

When Rothermel left, every program was doing well, even the women’s sports. The most important thing, they were all happy. You saw baseball coach Fred Dallimore, he was always happy.

Barry Barto, the men’s soccer coach, he was always happy.

You’d go into the office, and everybody was happy and got along. I’d go to soccer games, and I’m not a soccer fan. But I’d go to them. Harvey Hyde, the football coach, was always happy.

Everyone was successful, and that was because of Rothermel.

And we were making $4 million to $5 million a year. We were in the black every year. We were supporting other programs. Everybody got along.

When Rothermel left, there was such animosity, such hard feelings. You didn’t trust anybody. You were afraid to say something, that somebody might hear you. It was like the Gestapo just moved in.

Hardly anyone got along with Finfrock. I don’t even know if it was all his fault, but people were not tuned to him at all.

Then they brought in that guy from Memphis, Charlie Cavagnaro, and they told me all he did was play golf. He was never in the office. I loved John Robinson, but he was a football coach. That’s where his interest lied.

I’ve heard that Herman Frazier, the former Hawaii athletic director whom current UNLV president Dr. Neal Smatresk knows, is a possibility. But, God, I hear that he was terrible.

The most important thing they can do at UNLV is bring Larry Johnson into the athletic fold. He should be an assistant AD or in charge of something there, but they need to make him a part of the program.

He’s the greatest basketball player in UNLV history. Unquestionable. And he’s the best person ever to come through the program. He’s so unselfish and so caring about others.

Everyone in the community that I know loves him. Larry wants to get involved with UNLV. They should make him in charge of public relations or fundraising or something.

He tells me he wants to get involved with the university. He really does. Everybody who meets him loves him. He’d be the best guy for it. It’s not a one-way street with Larry. He’s a super human being.

He would unite the community and bring ’em toward UNLV. There’s nobody else I can think of that would do what Larry could do for the community.

It’s a great job for the right athletic director, but they have to get someone that the community will embrace. The new person has to be part of the community. Great fans are striving for them to be successful.

But that person had better think seriously about bringing Larry Johnson back to the program.

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