Kunzer-Murphy resigns as MAACO Bowl Las Vegas executive director

UNLV public-address announcer Dick Calvert has routinely referred to Tina Kunzer-Murphy as "the first lady of college football."

She ended her reign Wednesday, resigning after a long and successful run as executive director of Las Vegas' postseason game, now known as MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.

Kunzer-Murphy said she has accomplished about all she hoped since taking over in 2001 and that she wanted to take on a new challenge.

"It's the perfect time," she said. "I'm happy with the decision. I loved what I did. I loved working with ESPN. I never took anything for granted. They let me do some great things.

"I feel very fortunate. It's time to move on. There's really nothing more to do with the game."

She said she hoped to make an announcement within the next month regarding her next position. Kunzer-Murphy, inducted into the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, said she has been "in conversations" but would not provide specifics.

She joined ESPN Regional Television in 1999 before rising to the bowl's executive director two years later when ERT took over the game. Times were not always easy for Kunzer-Murphy and the bowl, which faced serious questions about its future in 2005.

But then the bowl invited Brigham Young for the first time, and that sparked a string of six sellouts in seven years.

The bowl, which played its first game in 1992, pits teams from the Mountain West and Pac-12 conferences.

"Tina's passion and commitment to the bowl have been at the core of the game's success, and we wish her the best in her next endeavor," Pete Derzis, senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Regional, said in a statement.

Kunzer-Murphy, who called herself "a strong 59," was the first female executive director of a bowl, and women now run two other games. She also served as chairwoman of the Football Bowl Association in 2010 and 2011, setting another precedent for women.

"It was a great honor," Kunzer-Murphy said. "When I talk about the things I've gotten to do not only representing Las Vegas but women in college football ... I feel very, very fortunate. It sounds like a cliche, but I've been able to do all these great things, and I want little girls to know it's possible to do what they want to do."

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.