Livengood to ask to remain on as UNLV athletic director


Jim Livengood spent his career signing five-year contracts but decided a three-year deal was long enough when he became UNLV's athletic director in December 2009.

That would be a reasonable amount of time, he figured, to accomplish some goals and set the athletic department on the correct path before stepping aside and possibly calling it a career.

Livengood has since decided he doesn't want to leave when his deal expires in December, a sentiment university president Neal Smatresk concurs with, and Smatresk will propose to the board of regents a three-year extension for Livengood.

"I've grown to love Las Vegas," Livengood said Thursday. "I know this will sound a little trite, but I've grown to become a huge believer of UNLV."

Smatresk ticked off a list of reasons he wants Livengood, 66, to remain on the job -- improved athletic and academic results, stronger fundraising that resulted in the athletic department being in the black last fiscal year despite a $1.7 million cut in state funding, and a commitment to compliance that "is possibly the most rigorous in the country."

Smatresk also said it was important that Livengood stay because he hired about half of the head coaches, including for the two most prominent programs -- men's basketball (Dave Rice) and football (Bobby Hauck).

"Jim has chosen coaches who will have long, successful careers here at UNLV," Smatresk said.

Smatresk said he would take the extension request to the regents meeting May 31 and June 1 at UNR.

Regents chairman Jason Geddes said he believes Livengood should receive the extra three years.

"He seems to have gotten the program in the right direction with hiring coaches and getting the budget in order," Geddes said. "The Dave Rice hiring was a tremendous hire. (Livengood) seems to be doing a real good job."

Regent James Dean Leavitt agreed.

"I've been happy with him," Leavitt said. "He's enthusiastic, and he knows what he's doing. He's got my strong support."

Livengood makes $295,000 per year, according to the university website, and he said he wasn't interested in a pay raise.

"I told Neal from Day One this is never going to be about the money part of it," Livengood said.

Livengood was hired by UNLV after 15 years at Arizona, where he earned the reputation of being able to balance the budget and run a highly competitive athletic department.

Livengood managed to pull that off even though the Wildcats did not receive state funding. It's his hope to wean UNLV off public support as well.

Private donations rose by nearly 21 percent in the 2010-11 fiscal year to $4.4 million. The department's goal is to reach more than $5 million when this fiscal year ends June 30.

"We're in a budget-planning mode to finish this year out and ... really (will) try to take a serious in-depth look at fiscal year '13," Livengood said. "I'm excited about the future of UNLV, and I'm excited about the future of Rebel athletics. It's an honor to be part of that.

"There's a lot of unfinished business here."

One piece of unfinished business is the construction of an on-campus football stadium, which is in the planning stages.

"When I'm done here," Livengood said, "I want this to be a job that everybody in the country wants."

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

 

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