UNLV's search for AD has domino effect

UNLV is facing increasing urgency to hire a football coach, which means the pressure intensifies when the search committee for a new athletic director meets this afternoon.

It is the next athletic director, after all, who will hire the next football coach.

"I understand every day we're on the clock," chairman Gerry Bomotti said.

But as Bomotti pointed out, there are steps in the job search that need to be adhered to. He said today's meeting will not produce a list of finalists seeking to replace Mike Hamrick, who now is at Marshall, as athletic director.

Bomotti said he didn't expect to even have the finalists by the end of the week. Part of the issue is a board of regents meeting Wednesday through Friday that will occupy part of UNLV president Neal Smatresk's time.

As previously reported in the Review-Journal, a handful of candidates from outside Las Vegas have emerged, though the only known name is Ross Bjork, the senior associate AD at UCLA.

Local candidates Jerry Koloskie and Steve Stallworth remain interested. Koloskie is the interim AD and Stallworth is the South Point Arena general manager.

Bomotti said at least 70 applications were received.

The new athletic director will have to quickly hire a football coach to replace Mike Sanford, and UNLV finds itself in a more competitive field for candidates. Seven other schools are in the market, adding pressure to move quickly.

"If we don't, we'll fall by the wayside," Koloskie said.

And then there is the recruiting calendar. The early signing period for junior college players begins Dec. 16, and many schools already have a healthy number of commitments leading up to the Feb. 3 signing day for all other players.

Koloskie said he didn't know if there's "a magical date" to hire an athletic director and move forward to finding a coach, but he knew time was tight and missing the early signing period was probable.

The quality of resumes of the coaches who have expressed an interest in UNLV -- either directly or indirectly -- is considerably higher than five years ago when Sanford was hired.

According to one UNLV source, the top names who have shown interest are Bobby Hauck, Dennis Franchione and Dirk Koetter.

Hauck is 78-16 in seven seasons at Montana, and recently was named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year for the third time in four seasons.

Franchione, who also coached Alabama and Texas A&M, turned around Mountain West Conference programs New Mexico and Texas Christian.

Koetter, the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator, was the coach at Boise State and Arizona State.

But because the athletic director who will make such a decision still needs to be named, there is no guarantee the next coach will be one of those three.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914.