UNLV's Livengood up for Big East commissioner post

UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood is a candidate to become commissioner of the Big East Conference, according to a CBSSports.com story.

The article listed Livengood and Major League Soccer president Mark Abbott as possibilities for the position.

Website ajerseyguy.com, written by former Boston Globe and Dallas Morning News sportswriter Mark Blaudschun, reported that the Big East has hired its commissioner and an announcement could come today.

Messages by the Las Vegas Review-Journal for Livengood and UNLV president Neal Smatresk were not returned.

If Livengood, 67, were to become the Big East commissioner, it would be more than a surprising turn of events.

Livengood had seriously considered retirement before agreeing to a three-year contract extension at UNLV that was approved in June by the state Board of Regents. The extension takes him through December 2015.

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

He was born and raised in the West, and spent his well-respected career on this side of the country. Livengood has children and grandchildren in Arizona, and has spoken many times of being close to them.

Also, Livengood has been vocal in his opposition to Boise State and San Diego State sending their football teams from the Mountain West Conference to the Big East next year.

When the Big East announced in December it was adding those schools, Livengood put out a statement that read in part, "... we do not believe in sacrificing the long-term health of UNLV athletics for short-term gain or radical change that solely benefits one program at the expense of our other programs."

The selling point for going to the Big East would be a final opportunity to be a conference commissioner and have a major say in shaping the landscape of college athletics during a time of massive realignment.

And the Big East could offer Livengood more than the $350,000 he makes annually at UNLV.

Such a move would be understandable if the Big East is interested in Livengood. He is one of the country's most respected athletic directors, having guided Washington State for six years and Arizona for 15.

Livengood has made his presence felt at UNLV, overseeing eight coaching hires, including those of men's basketball coach Dave Rice and football coach Bobby Hauck.

He also ran a small budget surplus the past two fiscal years, even with a struggling economy.

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