Las Vegas Sun

July 29, 2014

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Ron Kantowski:

Hardworking Koloskie quietly pushing to be UNLV AD

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Jerry Koloskie

If Jerry Koloskie were ever forced to blow his own horn, it would probably be a piccolo trumpet — the smallest member of the trumpet family.

And then he’d have to trade in his current instrument of choice, one of those whistles that only cocker spaniels can hear.

The longtime UNLV senior associate athletic director would like to be considered for the top job in the athletic department, that of athletic director, the position that practically ate Mike Hamrick alive before he decided to take a similar one — at least in title — at Marshall University in West Virginia, his alma mater.

If Koloskie knew I was writing this he would probably try to hit me over the head with a piccolo trumpet. It isn’t his style to campaign for a job in such a public forum. His style is to do 80 percent of the work and receive 10 percent of the credit.

Maybe that wasn’t his job description under the past three or four UNLV athletic directors. But to paraphrase Walter Cronkite, that’s the way it was. That’s the way it still is. Until UNLV gets a new president, Koloskie has agreed to serve as acting athletic director.

Which means he is now doing 100 percent of the work while receiving 10 percent of the credit.

Koloskie is sort of like the Uncle Buck of the UNLV athletic department. Maybe he’s not the first guy you think of when it comes to dynamic athletic director-types. But if somebody did the Rebels wrong, you could see him marching down the hall to the principal’s office to defend the Rebels’ honor while Tone Loc’s “Wild Thing” played in the background, like John Candy in the movies.

This is a guy who has spent more than half of his life defending the Rebels’ honor and serving the athletic department in myriad other ways. He’s 52 years old. He has been employed by the university for the past 27.

Koloskie began his UNLV career as a trainer. That’s sort of like starting out in the mail room and working your way up to president of a Fortune 500 company. He made John Robinson look like he knew what he was doing as athletic director and survived the collective reigns of the Axis of Ineptitude — former ADs Hamrick, Charlie Cavagnaro and Jim Weaver.

If Koloskie doesn’t deserve the job then he at least deserves a medal.

Having spoken to him informally about these and other things, I can tell he wants the job. He wants to be an athletic director — if not here, then somewhere else. Only he doesn’t want to leave Las Vegas for somewhere else. His kids were born here. He has a boat at Lake Mead. Although he grew up in West Virginia, which John Denver said was “almost heaven,” Koloskie thinks you can see the pearly gates better from his office on Maryland Parkway.

He’s thinking of ways to get more people to come out to women’s basketball, to baseball games and to some of the other lower-profile sports. He told me he was going to call Notre Dame to see whether it might be interested in playing some tackle football. He says he knows how these things work. He says he knows how to knock on doors and ask for money.

You want him to work hand in hand with some marketing hotshot? Koloskie says bring him on. Create the position and let’s get started. He’s got 2-for-1 Lady Rebels tickets he needs to distribute.

I could be wrong about this, but because football season is getting ready to start and with UNLV just naming a new president Thursday, Koloskie could wind up being acting athletic director for quite a spell. Potential replacements — at least from the traditional areas of athletic administration — are settled in at their schools. They won’t start looking for greener pastures until after March Madness.

UNLV is required by law to conduct a national search for Hamrick’s successor, even if it’s only lip service. But the quality of resumés the new president would receive from outside of Las Vegas in August or September most likely won’t measure up to the ones he would receive next April or May.

I don’t know if Jerry Koloskie is the right man — or woman — for the job. Maybe a local arena director like Steve Stallworth or Las Vegas Bowl executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy or some marketing whiz kid from a BCS school or a pro sports league would be a better fit. But if doing 100 percent of the work while receiving 10 percent of the credit — for as long as is needed — counts for anything, he should at least be considered.

Even if he won’t like me saying it.

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