Published Tuesday, May 17, 2011 | 2:13 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, May 17, 2011 | 9:39 p.m.
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To say Kreigh Warkentien landed her dream job would be an understatement.
Hired as the UNLV basketball program’s director of basketball operations Tuesday, Warkentien comes back to a program she grew up around. Her father, Mark Warkentien, served as an assistant coach and administrator on legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian’s staff during the program’s glory years.
Kreigh Warkentien recalls taking some of her first steps in the Thomas & Mack Center in developing a passion for Rebel basketball she’ll bring to her new position. She was the final hire on new coach Dave Rice’s staff, filling a position that is strictly administrative and involves no coaching or recruiting.
Rice was part of UNLV’s back-to-back Final Four teams, which Mark Warkentien coached on.
“I was born a Rebel,” Kreigh Warkentien said. “To me, this is more than a job. It is much bigger. I love that coach Rice is coming home to coach the program. I feel like I am coming home, too.”
Warkentien will be the liaison between the coaches and UNLV administration and will serve as the program’s academic coordinator. At some schools, the director of basketball operations partially serves as another coach; that won’t be the case at UNLV.
She previously worked in Arizona State’s program, where her duties included academic support, overseeing travel, equipment, recruiting and training table budgets. She is a 2009 graduate of Arizona State, where she also worked as a student manager.
She also previously worked in game operations with the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA.
“Her experience with the academic support area and administrative side of how a college basketball program operates will benefit our players,” Rice said in a statement. “I am excited about this hire and know she will do a great job.”
Additionally, her godfather is Tim Grgurich, who was Tarkanian's top assistant during the glory years and currently on staff with the Dallas Mavericks. That gives her plenty of knowledge about the history of the program and its significance in Southern Nevada.
“The community here is great,” she said. “They have an attachment to the program that I totally understand. I know what Runnin’ Rebel basketball means to the city of Las Vegas.”
Mark Warkentien, who is the New York Knicks’ director of pro player personal, has several stories about his daughter growing up near the program. He often used players — such as Chris Jeter of the 1990 national title team — as her babysitter.
“It is just a dream deal,” he said. “Literally, she was born a Rebel. I can’t believe how lucky we are.”
The fact that Kreigh Warkentien, a female, landed a job traditionally filled by men isn’t lost on the family.
“You will find a lot of presidents, athletic directors and coaches who talk about diversity,” said Mark Warkentien, who worked at UNLV from 1980 to 1991. “The three guys at UNLV believe in it. They saw the job meant more to her than any other applicant. She will bring that type of energy to the program.”
Rice, who was hired last month, has also hired former San Diego State assistant Justin Hutson, ex-Wyoming coach Heath Schroyer and former Rebel great Stacey Augmon.
Additionally, Rich Hilliard has been retained as the program’s video coordinator, a position he has held for five years. His title will be changed to director of student-athlete development.
“Rich has done a great job in the video coordinator role and will continue to do so,” Rice said. “I was aware of the quality of his work from being in the league and also because of the high recommendation that coach Kruger gave. We plan to get Rich involved in many areas of our program and expand his role to help him reach his goal of becoming a coach."