UNLV to begin interviews for AD post

UNLV’s search for an athletic director appears to be in its final stages, as the first of three candidates for the post will interview today.

According to two sources with knowledge of the search, Randy Spetman, who served as athletic director at Air Force, Utah State and, most recently, Florida State, arrived in town Friday and will meet with UNLV president Neal Smatresk and other university officials today.

The other candidates to be interviewed are Chris Peterson, the athletic director at Arkansas-Little Rock, and John Johnson, senior associate AD at Washington State.

In a text message Friday, Smatresk refused to discuss the situation, saying, “The search is not public at this time, so I have no comment.”

Tina Kunzer-Murphy has been running the athletic department on an interim basis since Jim Livengood resigned as AD in early May. A 15-member search committee identified the top candidates and gave their names to Smatresk, who will make the final decision.

Spetman, 59, might have the inside track. His firsthand knowledge of the Mountain West from his time at Air Force makes him familiar with UNLV.

He also had a strong record of success. During his tenure from 1996 to 2003, the Falcons won four bowl games. Spetman also hired Joe Scott as the school’s basketball coach in 2000, and in 2004 Scott guided Air Force to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1962.

Spetman also has a relationship with Rebels basketball coach Dave Rice. Spetman was the athletic director at Utah State when Rice was an assistant coach there in 2004-05.

Spetman’s experience as a sitting AD at a Bowl Championship Series program such as Florida State also makes him an intriguing candidate. He came to FSU in 2008 and made the decision to replace Hall of Fame football coach Bobby Bowden with Jimbo Fisher. The Seminoles have gone 31-10 in Fisher’s first three seasons and won three bowl games, including the 2013 Orange Bowl.

New Florida State president Eric Barron removed Spetman from the athletic director’s post and reassigned him within the school in early June.

A native of Council Bluffs, Iowa, Spetman is a 1976 graduate of the Air Force Academy, played defensive end for the Falcons and also boxed. He had a 28-year military career as a command pilot and rose to the rank of colonel.

Attempts to reach Spetman on Friday were unsuccessful.

Peterson, who has been the athletic director at Arkansas-Little Rock for 14 years, has a strong track record as a fundraiser and in building facilities. He also has BCS experience, having worked at Nebraska and Kansas State.

Johnson, who was a finalist for the UNLV job that went to Livengood in 2009, also was a recent finalist for the UNR job that went to Doug Knuth. He has played an integral role in fundraising at Washington State, having worked for the Pac-12 school since 2004. He also has 13 years’ experience as an AD at Eastern Washington and Weber State.

No date reportedly has been set for Peterson or Johnson to interview.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.