In a five-part series titled “Rebels in Ruins,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal analyzes UNLV’s downward trajectory in the revenue sports, how expansion and television revenues have widened the gap between the Power Five and Group of Five conferences, and what, if anything, the Rebels can do to expedite a return to prominence.
UNLV broke open a tie game with a nine-point run late in the second half and went on to beat Southern Utah 76-71 on Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Thunderbirds made a late charge, but came up short.
One of the main problems with UNLV athletics, perhaps the central one, is the fact it either doesn’t realize or accept its place in today’s world of collegiate athletics.
With the NHL having arrived, the NFL on its way and perhaps the NBA after that, UNLV’s quest to remain relevant is only just beginning, according to athletic directors at other NCAA Group of Five schools in major league markets.
Former UNLV interim coach Todd Simon has Southern Utah off to a 3-0 start. The Thunderbirds play UNLV at 7 p.m. Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Attendance has sagged since the UNLV-UNR game was moved to Thanksgiving weekend in 2016. Rebels coach Tony Sanchez likes the idea of playing the game on Nevada Day or that weekend.
The sport that for so long was a central source of producing revenue for UNLV athletics, which afforded the department a level of national relevancy, a brand Las Vegas prided itself on, is none of those things now.