If you think it couldn’t get any worse for UNLV’s athletic director, or its president, or its Board of Regents, think again. Because there are people who held those same positions at Louisiana Tech when it was decided that Tyler Summitt, the young and rosy-cheeked son of the legendary coach Pat Summitt, should be hired as Lady Techsters head coach when he was only 23.
You may have heard how that one turned out.
Young Summitt, now 25, had to resign after it was learned he had an “improper relationship” with one of his players.
One Lady Techster — one who had transferred to Louisiana Tech from Marquette, where young Summitt had been an assistant — posted a photo of her bare and flat midriff on Twitter to show the social media world it wasn’t her.
Which is really improper.
— Ashley Santos (@ASantos_33) April 8, 2016
It has been reported that young Summitt, who is married, had an affair with one of his players. This makes the Chris Beard Era at UNLV, all seven days of it, seem like a small misstep.
A couple of years ago, I spent an afternoon hanging out with young Summitt and his famous mother, who by then was suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. This was when Marquette was playing Tennessee Tech in one of those holiday tournaments at the South Point.
I was told I could speak with Pat Summitt after the game, and I did, but she had difficulty communicating or remembering much of anything about her Hall of Fame career. Tyler Summitt was there to fill in the blanks. I wrote about how after his mom had been diagnosed, he was by her side every step of the way, filling in the blanks and providing the love that only a son can.
I wrote about how poignant this was, and how it wasn’t about the 1,098 wins anymore, or the eight national titles at Tennessee. It was only about a mother being proud of her son for following in her footsteps. You could still see it in Pat Summitt’s eyes.
And then the other day, young Tyler Summitt put out a statement that he was resigning for personal reasons after “engaging in a relationship that has negatively affected the people I love, respect and care about the most.”
Anyway, at the time Louisiana Tech hired young Tyler Summitt, a lot of people down there took deep bows for having done it.
TAKE THIS (DREAM) JOB AND …
Remember after Urban Meyer had signed to coach football at Florida, and then Notre Dame fired Tyrone Willingham, and then Notre Dame officials got on a plane to talk to Meyer about coaching football under a golden dome?
Everybody thought Meyer was going to skip out on Florida, as good a job as Florida was for Steve Spurrier (but not for Ron Zook), because Notre Dame was his “dream job.” Even Meyer said it was. He had coached there as an assistant for five years; he was even named for a pope, or a succession of them.
Meyer had a clause in his Utah contract that said he could leave without reprisal if the Notre Dame job came open and people from Notre Dame flew out to see him.
Urban Meyer turned down his dream job. He stayed loyal (for a time) to Florida.
So while maybe (if you are in a small percentage) you don’t blame Chris Beard for returning to his roots, you do blame UNLV for letting its basketball program slip to the point where Texas Tech — which has never won the NCAA championship, or been to the Final Four, or, until this season, had not advanced to the NCAA Tournament in many Knights and moons — is now a better job than UNLV.
Which, sad to say, it is.
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO …
Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant, numbers 1 and 1A on the Las Vegas fan’s Daily Baseball Form, belted home runs on Thursday.
Harper’s was a grand slam. It was the 100th homer of his career. Already. It busted out a scoreboard panel.
It brought back memories of a game against Arizona during which Bryant blasted one 495 feet — the longest home run in the majors in 2015 — off the corporate logos on the obtrusive left-field video board in Wrigley Field.
Bryant’s homer on Thursday wasn’t nearly so prodigious. It carried only into the second or third row of the bleachers. But it was cold, and the wind was blowing in at a brisk clip.
Somebody emailed to ask if Harper and Bryant had homered on the same day before. Yes, they have. Many times. Already.
The one-upmanship among young Las Vegas sluggers began on the day Bryant hit his first big league homer. Last May 9, against Milwaukee, Bryant finally launched one into the cheaper seats — he had been called up April 17 — and on the same day, Harper smacked a long one against the Braves.
In fact, on four of the first seven days on which Bryant homered, so did Harper.
They played against each other for the first time May 25. Bryant hit a homer. Harper hit a double. The next day, Bryant hit a homer, and so did Harper.
They matched home runs seven times last season. So Thursday was the eighth time. It’s not a big deal anymore. But it’s still pretty cool if you’re a Las Vegas baseball fan.
DRUMS KEEP POUNDING RHYTHM
It was a little past 11 a.m. Friday, and Chris Beard had yet to make it official and break Rebels hearts. And so UNLV’s entire sports world was precariously perched on industrial strength pins and needles.
Well, almost UNLV’s entire sports world.
At 11:03 a.m., my Twitter alert went off. It was Mark Wallington, the Rebels’ longtime sports information guy, weighing in about something.
“UNLV men’s tennis with a showdown for first place in the MWC today at Utah State. Rebs win doubles point to start and lead 1-0.”
Eight minutes later, the athletic department issued a statement about Chris Beard skipping town.
As it turned out, the Rebels’ tennis team would lose to Utah State.
And while it seemed like the world was about to end over the plight of a basketball coach who recently was drawing up X’s and O’s for the Flint Tropics (actually, it was the South Carolina Warriors of the new ABA, whatever that is or was), these scoring updates from a UNLV men’s tennis match in Utah, in a weird sort of way, provided calm and perspective and normalcy.
And the beat goes on, and who the heck is talking about Mick Cronin now?
La de da de de. La de da de da.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.