Desiree Reed-Francois was understandably defensive in her Nov. 25 response to the Review-Journal’s recent series on UNLV athletics. Her letter talked about student-athletes. And while we are very proud of our Rebel student-athletes, they are not the answer to the question that was asked.
The RJ asked: “When will the Rebels return to greatness?” It’s simple: When we decide to return them to greatness. We, the people of Las Vegas, will have to decide when we are going to return the Rebels to greatness. And it starts with electing regents. The next time a university regent is up for election, ask how committed he or she is to the Rebel athletic program. If it’s less than 100 percent, vote for someone else.
If Ms. Reed-Francois is serious, she needs to unapologetically focus on athletics and nothing else. Not graduation rates, GPAs or even success stories. She is the athletic director, not the student-athlete director. Advocate for the athletic program, not the athletes, as callous as that may sound.
The next time we are looking for a basketball coach, as a community we need to commit to spend upward of $6 million. If any regent balks at this figure, vote them out. Commit to rebuilding the program or get out of the way.
When we were looking for people to build the stadium, we hired people who had built stadiums. We didn’t hire the people who talked about building anything other than a stadium. If we are going to rebuild the Rebel athletic program, we need people — from regents to university presidents to athletic directors to coaches — who are focused on rebuilding the Rebel athletic program. If your focus is anywhere else, go find a place where you can do that. It isn’t in Las Vegas.