The next executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission must be smart, tough, fair and diplomatic.
And that’s just for starters.
The five-member commission is searching for a successor to Keith Kizer, the state’s top regulator of boxing and mixed martial arts for almost eight years. Kizer, who was paid $95,000 last year, announced his resignation Friday. It takes effect Jan. 27.
“There’s a certain amount of urgency, but I don’t think the commission should be rushed to hire someone,” board chairman Francisco Aguilar said. “We want to take our time and be diligent and smart on how we manage the process. We want the best individual, so I don’t want to put a timetable on things.”
The board will hire an interim executive director until a permanent hire is made. Several major events are coming to Las Vegas in the next couple of months, including UFC 170 on Feb. 22 at Mandalay Bay and the Canelo Alvarez-Alfredo Angulo fight March 8 at the MGM Grand Garden.
Aguilar said it’s important to get an interim director on board quickly. The commission will meet by teleconference Friday afternoon and hopes to post specifications for both jobs by next week.
“There are certain things the state says we must abide by, so we can’t just go out and hire Keith’s temporary replacement,” Aguilar said. “But we do want to get the interim position filled as soon as possible.”
Aguilar said he has been getting phone calls and emails from interested candidates from within Nevada and across the country.
The commissioners outlined what they are looking for.
“I think the candidate should have an understanding of Nevada and how Nevada operates,” Aguilar said. “We’re unique. We’re not afraid to change the status quo. But what’s most important is that a candidate have a true understanding of all the combat sports we regulate. We want someone who has the ability to work with promoters in the different sports, work with those sports’ broadcast partners and with the media.”
Commissioner Bill Brady said this is a huge moment for the NAC.
“This is a big, big decision,” he said. “For me, first and foremost is finding someone with integrity and ethics. I want someone who understands and respects our rules and regulations and will make sure that they are followed by everyone who does business in Nevada with this commission.
“I also want to see someone who will work with the promoters and work with the commission but also has the ability to be tough and hold the line and stand firm while being fair. They must have diplomacy. They have to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.”
Commissioner Pat Lundvall wants to see someone hired who has a working knowledge of MMA.
“We’re dealing with an evolving sport, and we want to grow with it, and that means understanding the rules and the officiating,” she said. “I think that and someone who will grow our drug-testing program are my two biggest concerns going forward.”
The commissioners said they appreciated Kizer’s efforts and thought he did a good job overall. But Aguilar said this is a unique opportunity.
“This is a tough position to fill, no question,” he said. “But we want to find the best candidate, and I’m confident we will.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.