Updated December 13, 2021 - 5:37 pm
The Nevada Athletic Commission unanimously passed what it called “Nathan’s Law” on Monday, putting forth emergency regulations for amateur boxing events like the one that led to the death of UNLV student Nathan Valencia.
Valencia, 20, suffered fatal injuries in a Nov. 19 fraternity-sponsored boxing match at the Sahara Event Center, but Nevada law did not allow the athletic commission to oversee the Kappa Sigma Fight Night contest. That’s because university events or ones organized by a university-affiliated organization are exempt from regulation by statute, Chairman Stephen Cloobeck said during a Monday morning meeting.
“The event took place without any oversight,” Cloobeck said, adding, “It is now incumbent upon us to honor Nathan Valencia’s memory by protecting college students from similar events in the future.”
In response, the commission that regulates boxing in the Silver State passed what it described as emergency safety requirements required for amateur boxing matches and unarmed combat. A fight night organizer must now prove ahead of time that emergency medical personnel will be present in case someone is injured. Trained referees are also required.
Violators of what Cloobeck labeled “Nathan’s Law,” to be overseen by the commission, could be criminally prosecuted. The commission said late Monday that the emergency regulation went into effect immediately upon its filing with the Nevada secretary of state.
Cloobeck, meanwhile, expressed shock that “no on-site emergency personnel” were present at the contest involving Valencia. He and the other commission members held a moment of silence to honor Valencia.
“The regulation (presented) here today will close some holes in the system that allow fraternities and similar organizations to evade oversight and regulation,” Cloobeck said.
Valencia’s family attorneys issued a statement later Monday morning, calling the new regulations a positive step.
“We strongly encourage the Nevada Legislature to pass similar legislation to permanently close the loophole exempting universities from the Athletic Commission’s oversight,” the statement said. “Simply because the Athletic Commission did not have regulatory authority over Kappa Sigma Fight Night does not mean that UNLV, the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, or the Sahara Event Center are absolved from responsibility to host a safe event. We will hold those responsible for Nathan’s death accountable for their complete lack of care in the management and organization of this event.”
Cloobeck also stated during Monday’s meeting that the Metropolitan Police Department is continuing to investigate Valencia’s death.
“With emphasis, Metro’s investigation is ongoing along with the district attorney,” he said.
But Metro later contradicted that. Police previously said they did not find evidence of criminality on behalf of the venue where the fight occurred. Police spokesman Larry Hadfield said in an email Monday that their prior statement “still stands.”
“Although Mr. Valencia’s death is tragic, the circumstances surrounding his death are not criminal and no charges will be filed,” Hadfield wrote.
The boxing event was a fundraiser for Center Ring Boxing, a Las Vegas gym for troubled youth. The fraternity has since been suspended by UNLV.
Contact Glenn Puit by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.