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NACDA convention arrives in Las Vegas

Jim Livengood’s dream lasted years. He wanted more than anything to show them another part of Las Vegas.

One that didn’t begin and end with slot machines and gaming tables.

He got his wish.

Livengood helped spearhead the idea for NACDA — National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics — to hold its annual convention in Southern Nevada for the first time in four decades.

It will do so Sunday through Wednesday at Mandalay Bay Resort.

“It was important to show them Las Vegas could deliver with regards to a collegiate atmosphere in terms of lodging and entertainment and food, all the things that were special and that I got to know during my time in Las Vegas,” said Livengood, a former UNLV athletics director and president of NACDA. “There was a time when they were concerned about the gambling aspect and how it would be perceived for someone like NACDA. So that became the motivator. Expose the town in a different manner.”

This also did: Members of NACDA make up committees of which sites for NCAA championship play are decided.

It was announced in 2019 that the policy which prevented such events from taking place in states that offer regulated sports betting was overturned. The decision to hold NACDA’s convention in Las Vegas was made prior to the ruling.

But now, those same members get a first-hand look at the town in which several championships are expected to be staged in the coming years.

This will be the first time in three years the association has gathered and could see in the neighborhood of more than 6,000 attendees.

Two years ago, when the event was scheduled to hit Las Vegas, COVID-19 led to its cancellation.

Last year, with Orlando set as the host city, it was held virtually.

“(NACDA) will see all the things that the LVCVA and Las Vegas Events and MGM do, along with all the other leaders and shapers of Las Vegas, to make this place so special and social,” Livengood said. “People who haven’t been here in 10-15 years are coming and bringing their families. It’s a different Las Vegas now.”

NACDA and 18 affiliate associations will hold over 500 educational and networking events during the convention.

Among the leading topics to be discussed are Name, Image and Likeness along with the transfer portal.

“It’s a special thing to have our collegiate athletic leaders — and I do mean leaders — in this country all in one place like Las Vegas in June,” Livengood said. “It has been a long process. But it became very important to me because of how much I believe in the town. We needed to show the world what Las Vegas can do for an event like this.”

They must have liked what they heard.

NACDA will return to Las Vegas in 2024 and is already scheduled as part of the convention rotation.

Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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