Regents seek greater say over hiring of ADs, major coaches

The state Board of Regents will discuss today whether to approve Tina Kunzer-Murphy as UNLV’s interim athletic director, an unusual move by the regents for someone not seeking the job on a more permanent basis.

But this sort of action probably will be business as usual going forward.

The regents are seeking greater oversight regarding the athletic directors at state schools, as well as the coaches in football and men’s and women’s basketball. The two items that follow Kunzer-Murphy’s contract on the agenda for the meeting at UNR reflect their efforts to have more say while at the same time bestowing more power to the ADs.

The regents believe the athletic director and major coaching posts need closer scrutiny during the hiring process.

“It’s high profile enough that it needs to come in front of us,” vice chairman Kevin Page said. “One problem with athletic coaches is it’s become a little bit of an arms race. You’re getting higher and higher dollar amounts. We’re trying to rein that in.”

The agenda item for Kunzer-Murphy calls for an annual salary of $170,000, with the term ending Dec. 31 unless the vacancy is filled sooner. UNLV president Neal Smatresk has said a full-time athletic director could be hired by September. Current AD Jim Livengood steps aside June 30.

Page said the need for more thorough oversight could be seen in the recent situation at Rutgers, which faces serious questions over its vetting of Julie Hermann for athletic director. Hermann was accused of verbally abusing volleyball players when she coached the sport at Tennessee, a revelation that forced Rutgers to defend its hire. Page said Nevada regents don’t want to face the embarrassment of a similar situation.

Besides greater oversight on major hires, the committee wants to empower athletic directors in their choices of coaches for nonrevenue sports.

The regents began in June 2011 to look at reaching that goal with the formation of a committee led by former UNR president Joe Crowley. In a special meeting in April, a proposal was put forth that regents would need only to approve contracts longer than three years and worth more than $1.2 million in total compensation.

The limits apply to the athletic director position and coaches in the major sports as well, but because nonrevenue sports probably won’t surpass those maximums, they won’t need board approval. The AD job and major sports most likely will exceed at least one limit.

That issue will be discussed today, but no action will be taken.

“We’re trying to streamline the nonrevenue sports and leave it to the AD’s discretion,” chairman Jason Geddes said. “The idea is to give more authority to the athletic director.”

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

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