NAC sets finalists for executive director post

The Nevada Athletic Commission took a major step toward finding an executive director on Wednesday, identifying 10 people as potential finalists to replace Keith Kizer, who resigned Jan. 10.

The 10 were selected from a list of 36 that had been whittled down from an initial 350 applicants.

Among those still under consideration are Chris Eccles, who works for the Nevada Attorney General’s office; Bob Bennett, a former FBI agent and current boxing judge in Nevada; Reno resident Mike Martino, who had been interim executive director for USA boxing and is a current inspector in Nevada; Henderson resident Joe Nady, who has been an inspector with the commission since 1984; and Mark Smith, a mixed martial arts judge and airplane pilot based out of Las Vegas.

The list, compiled by the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, which oversees the athletic commission, includes several experienced administrators from other jurisdictions. Eric Bentley is the assistant director for the New York State Athletic Commission; Andrew Foster is the executive director of the California State Athletic Commission and was the executive director of the Georgia Athletic Commission. Aaron Davis has been a commissioner with the New Jersey State Athletic Commission since 2008, and Jeff Mullen of Tennessee is a former MMA judge and is the executive director of the Tennessee Athletic Commission. California attorney Craig Hubble is the vice president of the North American Boxing Federation.

“I’m extremely impressed with the group,” NAC chairman Francisco Aguilar said. “The depth of knowledge of boxing and mixed martial arts is extensive, and as individuals the group is strong. It speaks to Nevada’s position within the role of MMA and boxing.

“I’m confident we’ll find a suitable successor to Keith from this list.”

Aguilar said the commission hopes to begin formal interviews in mid-April. The NAC meets April 1, and at that time, it will decide how many candidates it will interview. The interview process will be done in public.

“How many we’ll decide to interview, I can’t say,” Aguilar said. “But I would think it will be somewhere around four or five.”

That meeting will be the first for Tony Marnell III, who was appointed to the commission last week by Gov. Brian Sandoval to replace the late T.J. Day. Aguilar said having the commission back at five will be critical in choosing an executive director.

‘It’s very important to have someone coming in with a fresh perspective and the athletic and business background Tony has,” Aguilar aid. “Plus, we don’t have to worry about a vote going to a tie.”

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

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