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CSN athletic director trying to bring back basketball programs


Since being named director of athletics at College of Southern Nevada in December 2013, Dexter Irvin has kept a fairly low profile.

With the exception of a woman from Wyoming who was upset she couldn’t get a hot dog at one of the satellite diamonds during the recent Coyote Border Battle baseball tournament, nobody wants to reassign him to another part of campus. Nobody has spent big money on a committee to replace him.

Job security notwithstanding, he and the CSN athletic program would like to have a slightly higher profile.

Irvin wants to reinstate junior college basketball on the Henderson campus, or at least to a nearby high school gym that would charge a reasonable rent.

He has witnessed what has happened to the men’s program at UNLV. He still wants to bring back basketball.

CSN briefly had men’s and women’s basketball in 2002-03. The programs were scuttled after one season because of lack of funding, lack of interest, or both.

(You might recall that Daniel Artest, kid brother of Metta World Peace, played 12 games for George Tarkanian before being booted off the team. But chances are you probably do not recall that. Most of the players were from out of town, and few in town went to the games.)

“We’re working real hard with our administration to make it happen,” Irvin said. “We’ve got to get some financial backing to be able to put all of that in place. Once we get the finances, we believe we’ll have the support, both institutionally and around the community, to make it happen.”

CSN has five self-funded sports programs — men’s baseball and soccer, and women’s softball, volleyball and soccer.

The Coyotes won the 2003 juco national championship in baseball when Tim Chambers was coach. Bryce Harper, the 2015 National League Most Valuable Player, played one season at CSN to expedite his pro career.

With a deep local high school talent pool from which to draw, Irvin believes CSN could be just as successful on the basketball court.

 

It would take around $275,000 to bring back both basketball programs, he said — less than Ohio State pays its men’s lacrosse coach ($324,920). That might seem like a small price to pay. But when you are raising money through bake sales and car washes (only a slight exaggeration), it also can seem like a daunting task.

Irvin, who oversaw a 13-sport curriculum at NCAA Division II Hawaii-Hilo and also spent 10 years as athletic director at Dixie State College in St. George, Utah, said it probably would take two or three years for CSN to raise the funds. He has started knocking on doors within the community; he invites anybody who might be interested in becoming a basketball benefactor to knock on his.

“Again, it’s an opportunity for kids from Las Vegas and the greater state of Nevada to come to CSN and get a quality education, and compete in basketball along with the other great sports we have,” Irvin said.

The part I like best about the CSN athletic program is the Coyotes are competitive with local talent. Around 80 percent of CSN athletes attended high school in Southern Nevada. You see lots of moms and dads and aunts and uncles at the games. The part Irvin likes best is that 113 of 134 athletes on the current rosters are first-generation college students.

“The whole idea is to give these kids a chance to go to school,” he said. “We’re going to make an impact on them, their families as an alumni base, providing not just an economic impact but a social and physiological impact on the quality of life of students in Southern Nevada. That’s what we’re after here.”

He also wanted to know how one would go about getting CSN’s schedule listed in the newspaper’s sports calendar.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.