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September 22, 2021

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Desiree Reed-Francois says goodbye to UNLV football team

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Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

UNLV Athletic Director Desiree Reed-Francois helps collect helmets after their NCAA football game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves Saturday, September 7, 2019, at Sam Boyd Stadium. Arkansas State won 43-17.

The UNLV football team welcomed a surprise visitor to training camp on Monday — outgoing athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois.

Reed-Francois was announced as the new AD at Missouri on Sunday, but she is still in Las Vegas prepping for her final exit. A regular at football practices since arriving at UNLV in 2017, Reed-Francois took the opportunity to address the players after the session ended.

In a world where college coaches barely pause to send a group text to their team before bolting for the next job, the football program seemed to appreciate Reed-Francois making the gesture.

“I wouldn’t have expected anything less,” head coach Marcus Arroyo said. “She’s been first-class since we first met and talked when I was at Oregon, and I would expect nothing less than her to come out here, see us face to face and communicate and do it that way.”

Reed-Francois did not speak to the media.

Arroyo, who was hired by Reed-Francois last year, described their working relationship as “professional and open” and praised the job she did at UNLV.

“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “I’m just thankful for her vision and what she’s laid the groundwork for here. We chose to come here based on that vision.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be around some really great ones, most recently Rob Mullens and Mike Holder at Oklahoma State, two amazing athletic directors, and now with Desiree here,” Arroyo continued. “I’ve had opportunities to see what it looks like and the SEC is getting a great one.”

UNLV has not yet named an interim athletic director.

While the next AD will play a huge role in the future of UNLV athletics, Arroyo said the short-term effects on the football program will be negligible.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Arroyo said. “I’m in camp 20. We’ve had a lot of people come and go — coaches, athletic directors, trainers and everyone. Her impact globally is a big one, obviously, but for our everyday routine the beauty of what we do as head coaches at any of these sports … we’re out here designing this and going about our work every day. That’s what we do. We’ve got our job to do and we don’t flinch.”

Martell still a no-go at practice

Transfer quarterback Tate Martell remains the biggest story of UNLV training camp despite the fact that he has yet to practice with the team.

Martell is still waiting to be cleared, and while he can put in some individual work, he has not been able to fully participate in any of the first five sessions.

That’s bad news for UNLV, as the team needs Martell to get reps and separate himself as the No. 1 quarterback. For now, junior Justin Rogers and sophomore Doug Brumfield continue to fight it out for the starting job, with freshman Cameron Friel also in the mix.

Arroyo said Rogers and Brumfield have done nothing to lose ground in the position battle.

“Those guys have done a nice job,” Arroyo said. “Their roles haven’t changed after five practices.”

While Arroyo has yet to see what Martell can do on the field, the coach has been impressed with the way he’s handling himself behind the scenes.

“You can see a guy, the way he’s wired in a meeting, the way his body language is, how he communicates with his guys, how he is when he’s around as a teammate celebrating with his guys,” Arroyo said. “You can see a guy’s collective competitiveness and fire and love for the game, and I’ve seen that part.”

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

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