Three locals who might be in the running for UNLV AD job

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STEVE STALLWORTH: The South Point arena general manager told the Sun: "I love the business of sports. Taking the same sports principles and applying them in business, that's where my strengths are."

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JERRY KOLOSKIE: The UNLV interim AD has been part of the athletic program for more than 25 years.

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TINA KUNZER-MURPHY: The Las Vegas Bowl executive director has achieved years of sellout crowds and recently landed a multiyear sponsorship by MAACO auto paint and body shops.

There’s still no official list of candidates for the vacant UNLV athletic director’s job and probably won’t be until spring. But since the Sun last published an unofficial list of local possibilities in July, the three names that keep popping up most in news stories and talk on the street are those of Las Vegas Bowl Executive Director Tina Kunzer-Murphy, South Point Equestrian and Event Center General Manager Steve Stallworth and interim UNLV Athletic Director Jerry Koloskie.

Of the three, only Koloskie isn’t a UNLV grad, but he has been a vital part of the Rebels’ athletic program for more than 25 years.

Kunzer-Murphy and Stallworth are considered sports business types whose contacts and experience in the areas of media, marketing and sponsorships could be seen as invaluable, especially in a flagging economy. As a UNLV associate athletic director for more than a decade, Koloskie has hands-on experience regarding how an athletic department should operate.

Under Kunzer-Murphy’s stewardship, the Las Vegas Bowl has played to sellout crowds and recently landed a lucrative multiyear, multimillion-dollar title sponsorship from MAACO auto paint and body shops.

As general manager of the Orleans Arena, Stallworth was responsible for staging a college basketball game featuring NCAA juggernauts Kansas and Florida, the first time programs of such magnitude agreed to play ball in an arena connected to a casino.

Koloskie was named UNLV interim athletic director. According to athletic department insiders, he had been doing most of the work anyway in his long-standing role as associate A.D.

Though all three have expressed interest in the job, only Stallworth has campaigned for it publicly.

“I love the business of sports,” Stallworth said during a three-hour interview with the Sun. “Taking the same sports principles and applying them in business, that’s where my strengths are.”

Kunzer-Murphy has told her inner circle that becoming UNLV athletic director would be her “dream job.” Koloskie has more or less said the same thing to his confidants, indicating that everything he’s done in athletic administration up to now was in preparation for becoming a full-fledged athletic director.

Although UNLV President Neal Smatresk has indicated there will be a national search to find a replacement for Mike Hamrick, who resigned as UNLV athletic director in July, both he and James Dean Leavitt, the chairman of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, are impressed with the potential local candidates.

“I do believe there’s local talent and good local people,” Smatresk told the Sun in a recent interview before issuing the following qualifier: “Are they qualified to run a Division I, NCAA-compliant program? Is there experience in that realm?”

Leavitt said he has met informally with Kunzer-Murphy and Koloskie and is planning to chat with Stallworth soon.

“It’s got to be someone who is creative, someone who is dynamic,” Leavitt said. “They need to be charismatic because at the end of the day they need to tell the UNLV story, and that implies a certain personality.

“Some of the local people we have right now have demonstrated absolute excellence and commitment and, quite frankly, fidelity to the Las Vegas community.”

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  1. Okay, all three are nice people, and they're Las Vegans and have UNLV ties. Check, check and check.

    But if I were president or regents' chair, my questions for the AD candidates would be:

    1. Where does the money come from to keep everyone in the athletic department employed next year IF football and basketball don't have winning seasons? It won't come from the legislature ...

    2. Should you keep everyone in the athletic department employed? If not, where will you start cutting?

    3. Apparently, someone thought it was a good idea to play a football game that wasn't on TV in front of a half empty stadium? Did that decision make money for the department, or lose money for the department, and more importantly, if it did lose money, what can you do to keep it from happening again?

    4. One of the candidates recently said in an interview in print that he would like to raise some money for facilities improvements for the non-revenue generating 'Olympic' sports. Does it concern you that there appeared to be no analysis whether this money might be better spent on, say, paving the dirt parking lot outside the football stadium in hopes of actually selling some of the 22,000 unsold seats?

    5. It's commonly thought the AD position requires someone good at schmoozing local billionaires (millionaires?) for donations. Is it maybe a better decision to focus on a) cutting costs, b) generating incremental revenue from football and basketball (find SOMEONE in the community who would trade a press meal and maybe some insurance for the walk on players ($80,000 value) in exchange for those tens of thousands of unsold tickets), and c) boosting small donations from the alumni base (adopting the Obama strategy of small donations from thousands of individual donors)?

    6. It's important to place an emphasis on compliance, rules, academics and graduation rates. But can YOU personally stand in front of a group of student athletes and explain why YOU would NOT have this position today if you did not perform well academically?

    7. Times are tough right now, nationally and locally. But even the most pessimistic among us anticipate a recovery. Maybe it comes in 2010. Maybe 2011. Either way, what is your plan a) if recovery comes in 2010, or 2011 and b) if no recovery comes at all? What is the future of UNLV athletics? Will you advocate for a refreshment of SBS? A new stadium? Where? The Maryland Pkwy campus? Land in the northwest for the planned new campus? Face lift for the aging T&M or a new facility? Given that public funding options are off the table for the next 5-10 years, how will you pay for any of this in good times or in bad times? Have you thought about ANY of this, and do you have a PLAN?

    These questions and the prospective hire's answers are important and will determine the future of UNLV athletics.

  2. Let the president of UNLV do his job and quit your campaigning for Stallworth. We need to bring in an AD with Division 1 experience. Not some local that has never worked a day in an AD department. That's been UNLV's problem with the past few AD's.