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Outgoing UNLV athletic director thanks supporters, touts accomplishments

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L.E. Baskow

UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy cheers the team on versus San Jose State during their game at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017.

With just a few days left on the job, outgoing UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy took to social media this week to thank supporters and tout her accomplishments over the past four years.

In a “Rebel Report” email newsletter sent to UNLV donors and alumni and posted on UNLVRebels.com, Kunzer-Murphy wrote that it was “an honor” to serve as AD at her alma mater.

“As a lifelong Las Vegan, former UNLV student-athlete, former UNLV coach, former UNLV administrator and the first woman and first alumna of the school to be its athletics director,” she wrote, “I want to thank our coaches, staff, and student-athletes who make UNLV so amazing and the leaders of this university who have been so supportive.”

The post included a bullet-point list of achievements during her four years on the job, which included 15 conference championships in eight sports and 21 postseason appearances in 12 sports. Kunzer-Murphy also pointed to strong graduation rates and single-game attendance records for baseball, women’s basketball and men’s and women’s soccer as evidence of a successful tenure.

Kunzer-Murphy’s contract was set to run until June 30, but new athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois will take over the position on June 1. Kunzer-Murphy will step aside after the long weekend and shift to a fundraising role with the Rebel Athletic Fund.

Kunzer-Murphy’s post didn’t touch on some of the more controversial episodes during her term. Contract extensions given to men’s basketball coach Dave Rice, football coach Bobby Hauck and baseball coach Tim Chambers all ended badly, with Rice’s mid-season termination in particular drawing criticism from fans.

Rice’s firing led to a drawn-out coaching search that saw Kunzer-Murphy spurned by her first choice, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin. She then hired Chris Beard, who left after a week to take the head coaching job at Texas Tech. Kunzer-Murphy then hired Marvin Menzies, but the program was set back at least a year by the lengthy hiring process.

Saddled with a roster made up almost entirely of last-minute recruits, the Rebels posted a program-worst 10-21 record in 2016-17, and attendance lagged badly. In large part due to the poor attendance numbers, UNLV announced its athletics budget is operating at a deficit of more than $4 million.

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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