Monday, Nov. 16, 2009 | 11 a.m.
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UNLV football coach Mike Sanford, who was told on Sunday that he would not be brought back for the 2010 campaign, met with the media on Monday afternoon to answer questions. Here is the sound from the press conference in its entirety.
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Early Friday morning, Dr. Neal Smatresk sat in a black leather chair in his seventh-floor office and knotted a scarlet tie around the collar of a light blue-striped dress shirt.
UNLV’s new president spoke wistfully about a football victory the following day at Air Force, the Rebels beating San Diego State, and Ryan Wolfe and Omar Clayton playing in a well-deserved bowl game.
“ … we could finish 7-6,” Smatresk said.
Didn’t happen. In fact, the Rebels got blistered, 45-17, at Air Force, which dropped them to 4-7 and triggered the Sunday ouster of fifth-year coach Mike Sanford by interim athletic director Jerry Koloskie.
By making such a bold in-season move, Koloskie no doubt scored more than a few points for himself in his quest to win the permanent position.
He had told the Sun that he would not consider making a move until the team became bowl ineligible – Koloskie was true to his word, and he acted confidently and decisively.
That’s just what Smatresk, who agreed with Koloskie on ousting Sanford, seeks in someone who will run his athletic department.
Early Friday morning, Smatresk (rhymes with SPA-tresk) explained that no major university decisions would be made without his mutual consent, but he expected those under him to think for themselves.
“I’m not the key decision maker here,” he said. “This is an AD’s job. I look for an AD to work with me, to explain to me, to help me understand what’s going on, then to deliver a decision that we can agree on.
“That’s the right way to work. For me, if I don’t respect an AD’s decision, what the heck is an AD for?”
The AD position became vacant in July, when Mike Hamrick bolted for his alma mater at Marshall.
Smatresk took over his post in August. He inititally wanted to wait until the spring to hire a new athletic director, because that’s when such significant moves normally are executed.
He needed to “get his arms” around the university, its personnel and every nuance of how it operated, and he set about restructuring the entire operation.
He achieved in three months what he set out to do in about three years, and he’s been busy doing stuff like setting up Las Vegas to be the solar capital of the world.
He aims to put UNLV back in its “proper place” as the heartbeat of the city.
And in addition to hiring a new athletic director, Smatresk has needed to get a provost, four deans and someone to oversee diversity.
“I need good people,” he said, “so that I don’t have to manage things myself.”
As issues piled up on his desk, Smatresk decided to clear some of them, which included moving up the athletic director situation on his timetable.
The UNLV athletic director search committee, comprised of about a dozen school officials, met for the first time a few weeks ago.
Gerry Bomotti, a UNLV vice president of finance and business, is the chair of the committee, all of whose members signed confidentiality agreements.
Former Rebels quarterback Steve Stallworth, who has worked at UNLV and now runs the South Point arena and equestrian center, was one of the first candidates nominated for the position. He said it’s his dream job.
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said the same thing, but she removed herself from consideration last week.
Smatresk said he hasn’t nominated anyone for the vacancy, and Bomotti said he has been encouraged by the search. “There is a really strong pool of candidates,” he said of the Internet-based process.
Koloskie just became the top candidate, with a bullet.
Early Friday morning, after clearing up a problem with the satellite radio in his car, Smatresk said Koloskie, like anyone in a temporary role, might have an edge on his competition.
“Anytime there’s an interim, there’s an edge, a given power,” Smatresk said. “You have power of position. I have a chance to try before I buy, so to speak, and you have a chance to prove something.”
That said, Smatresk insisted the national search will be fair.
“I love nothing better than having an ace in the hole,” he said. “Everyone does. At the end of the day, the number of good candidates you need is one.
“Having said that, I believe Jerry has done a great job. He’s out there. He’s hustling. I love his work ethic. He’s just a really nice guy and I think he’s stepped out from under Mike (Hamrick’s) shadows, and the community is warming to him.”
Over the weekend, Koloskie distanced himself from the rest of the field. Smatresk’s ace in the hole just made the race for UNLV athletic director a moot point.