Published Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009 | 9:45 a.m.
Updated Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 | 12:40 a.m.
UNLV this morning released the names of the three finalists for its open athletic director post. University President Neal Smatresk had earlier confirmed the names to the Sun.
In the end, the next AD either will be Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood, Washington State senior associate athletic director John Johnson or former Oregon athletic director Bill Moos.
All three have significant, successful experience in the commanding position within athletic departments, and according to Smatresk, that was part of what made all three appealing.
"I'd say it's fair to say that an experienced and highly connected, networked individual is attractive to us, someone who's been there, done that," he said over the phone in between meetings Wednesday afternoon. "Someone who's built an athletic program, maintained it and kept it in the black."
Smatresk said one candidate will be in town for a visit and interview on Friday, with another to follow Monday and the third on Tuesday. He also said a decision on who takes over as UNLV's new athletic director should be expected by Tuesday night.
"It's already been longer than I would have wished for," Smatresk added. "But given the pool (of candidates) and some of the timing problems we've had, we feel pretty happy that we'll be able to bring it to a conclusion next Tuesday.
"I would like to think that we'll be having very serious talks. I'm going to try to keep my finger on the pulse of what different groups are saying, including athletics, cabinet, alums and major donors."
In an added twist, the university announced later in the day on Wednesday that all three candidates, when on campus, will take part in a public forum at the UNLV Student Union Ballroom. The first candidate to visit will be Johnson on Friday, with a public forum beginning at 3 p.m. As for times with Moos and Livengood on Monday and Tuesday, due to scheduling conflicts currently being ironed out, details will be released later.
Out of the running as of Tuesday night were both top local candidates — interim AD Jerry Koloskie and South Point Arena general manager Steve Stallworth, who is also a former UNLV quarterback.
Another one-time candidate who was believed to be a favorite among the search committee, according to sources — UCLA senior associate athletic director Ross Bjork — is also out of the running. That was confirmed to the Sun late Tuesday night.
Livengood, 62, has held the AD position at Arizona since January 1994 and has the public backing of close friend and former university system Chancellor Jim Rogers.
Moos was the athletic director at Oregon from 1995 to 2007 and fits what UNLV needs in one key area — his ability to raise funds. He helped to more than double Oregon's athletic budget during his tenure in Eugene and was a driving force behind several key facilities improvements.
Johnson, who was the athletic director at Weber State from 1997 to 2004, currently works as a senior associate AD at Washington State.
One major question to come from the public with the group of finalists involves hunger for both the position and success, given that all three are veterans who have achieved success elsewhere.
Smatresk believes that's not an issue.
"All I want to say is they're a highly qualified group," he said. "And quite frankly, I think any one of them can do the job."