UNLV Athletics Director Press Conference Quotes
Dec. 17, 2009
UNLV President Dr. Neal Smatresk Quotes
"I know this has been a long process. I have to tell you, I learned a lot as a president about athletics, the role athletics plays in the community and the importance it has."
"We as a University, have often struggled to gain the kinds of recognition that we feel we deserved, to have winning sports programs in elements of athletics. Certainly it is no secret that we have had some recent challenges in football and we also are facing very, very tough economic conditions. Under these circumstances, what we want is a seasoned, tried and true, athletic director. Someone who has been there and someone who has done that. Someone who can bring credibility, a network, connections and can also be a mentor and a positive influence within athletics. I think we also need one other, just little thing - someone who knows how to run athletics in the black and not with a lot of red ink."
"When we look at all the candidates who are out there and you ask who has had a lot of championships, a lot of national championships, who has had tremendous standing in the national community, who has weathered a difficult athletic director's position for many years and who has put these people in the black and done it with style, and I am going to add and have done it without any state-supporting dollars in the mix, the answer came out Jim Livengood."
UNLV Athletics Director Jim Livengood (full transcript)
Mr. President, thank you for making this a mic that can move around. It's a little bit hard to hide behind a podium. Let me introduce somebody, the president introduced several people, let me introduce somebody that is very special in my life and actually in many ways, the captain of our team. Where's Linda Livengood? We've all been there, we've all done this, we've all done that but in the tough days, when things are tough and those kinds of things, to be able to come home for 41 years and have somebody say `you know what, it is ok, it is going to be ok, we are going to get better we are doing to do this.' She's never called a play, but she has suggested several. Not to coaches, but to me.
Well ladies and gentlemen, it is an honor and a privilege, and I can't tell you how excited and enthusiastic I am, and we are, to be at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and become your next athletic director. This is one of those things, somebody asked the other day `why UNLV, why Las Vegas?' And my answer is quite simple. It's the time, it's the city and it's the university, there is no question about that. One of the things, when I become involved in this process, two, two-and-half weeks ago, one of the things that became really important and really hit me between the eyes was this gentleman's right here - your president - vision for this university, and it is amazing. He's not bashful about it, he's excited about it, and he absolutely, absolutely believes it. He is not wordsmithing, it's not trying to be a popular this and that, and that makes this a great job, not a good job.
Now, why UNLV at the end? It's not about, we are not coming from Arizona. That's been a great run, it's a great city, Tucson is, and certainly the U of A is a great institution. But this is about, for Linda and I, for our family, in terms of for our student-athletes, for our coaches, for our staff, this is a chance to make a difference, I believe, at this university. That is exactly what we, not I, what we intend to do.
Now, priorities. I can list four things that would be very simple, none of them would shock you. Number one, the most important thing right now, just from an immediacy stand point, is to have a head football coach hired yesterday. Not today, not tomorrow, not by Tuesday, but yesterday. That has to happen immediately and we are working on that right now. I only had the chance to be able accept this job late last night, thank you Mr. President, so all of these will happen rather rapidly.
With that, a lot of things are going to happen. That individual who is going to lead Rebel football into the future, and I do mean into the future, has to get in place right away and has to be able to get our own team, our own young players right here, a feeling of stability. That the ship isn't rudderless. We talk about recruiting, we talk about the ability to have coaches go out and recruit and so on, let's not forget the most important people to recruit right now is our own football team. To allow them to feel like there is some concern. That's the idea of making sure a staff is put together, hence the idea that making sure we go off and recruit prospective student-athletes.
Number two is to really take a look at the internal-external. By that I mean pay attention to our staff inside. Get to learn, get to know our strengths and weaknesses. Not trying to see who can't work but trying to get to know this place and these individuals internally. At the same time, concurrently, talking with, and visiting immediately, every day, all day, our external group. People that are in Las Vegas right now who have been great Rebel fans: our alums, our boosters, our donors. People who care about the Rebels. But also, externally outside of Las Vegas, because it can't be just this family right in here. There are great alums all over that care like you do about this institution and about this athletic program. Those kinds of things become really, really important.
Thirdly. I think we need to start immediately, in terms of looking to the future with regards to facility master plan, with regards to strategic planning. In other words, we have to learn and know and understand who we are and what we are. What we do well and what we don't do well and make those things we don't do well better. I think many times we spend a lot of time that is unproductive talking about what we all don't have. You all know this, and I am going to learn this in rapid fashion, we live in a great city. We have a university that is more widely recognized for a lot of great things that probably any of us realize. I know the president knows that, but we need to start expounding and talk about those things, and that's where the athletic department comes in. We can be, should be and will be a great window for this institution.
And lastly, trying to make sure that as much as we can, everybody who wants to get involved and help the Rebels - that it needs to be all aboard. One of the dynamics of a process like this is that everybody tends to have maybe their person and their individual, the person they wanted to get the job and so on. I can't help solve that end of it, what I can help do is embrace everybody and try to be that person that is going to be able to bring people together. I think we need that both internally and externally.
Those kind of things right there. My only interest, and you won't hear me use I or my very often. In fact, hardly ever. My only interest is to allow and help us get better. This is going to be a long time, and I know Linda is excited about this, 24-7. And the only reason for that is because we are somewhat limited with days of the week and somewhat limited with hours. But that is the way it goes. So I am excited and I will stay excited. My work ethic, there is not a question about that. It is very collaborative, I like to get people involved and I like to have people in a consensus-building part. I think that is the key to how the Rebels get better, and that is how I and we can best represent this university, and it is a great university. It is an incredible honor today to be here. I know I am going to be asked a number of questions on a lot of fronts and I will be more specific as we go along. This isn't the time, this isn't the place to address all of those right now.
Thank you for being here today. Thanks for caring for your university. Thanks for caring about your athletic program, and it is your athletic program, we're caretakers. And go Rebels. Let's go get it done.