UNLV student-athletes gathered at the Thomas & Mack Center on Friday in advance of the big day.
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Born and raised in Las Vegas, Tina Kunzer-Murphy has been a fixture in the Southern Nevada sports community for more than four decades. On July 1, 2013, she added another accomplishment to her long and varied career as she began serving as UNLV Interim Director of Athletics. The move marked two major milestones as Kunzer-Murphy became both the first woman and the first alum of the school to run the department.
Just six months later, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents removed the interim tag from Kunzer-Murphy's title and approved a three-year contract for her to serve as the school's permanent AD.
"I want to thank the Board of Regents for the tremendous support that they've given to me and to UNLV Athletics," Kunzer-Murphy said. "It's an unbelievable and humbling opportunity to work on behalf of our 450 student-athletes and their talented head coaches. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us but it's a great thing to wake up every morning knowing that you get a chance to make a real difference at your alma mater in your own hometown."
A graduate of Valley High School, Kunzer-Murphy first attended Southern Utah, where she lettered in swimming, before transferring to UNLV to compete in both tennis and volleyball at her hometown university. She earned her bachelor's degree in physical education from the school in 1975.
While pursuing a graduate degree she served as a tennis instructor and dance teacher at both UNLV and Clark County Community College (now CSN).
Soon after earning her master's in education in 1977, she was hired as head coach of the UNLV women's tennis team as well as director of its cheerleading program. When the school dropped tennis for financial reasons in the early 1980s, she was thrust into a management role under then-athletics director Brad Rothermel, and eventually worked with the football and basketball programs, among others, during the department's wildly successful run through the PCAA/Big West Conference. Named UNLV's Senior Women's Administrator in 1981, Kunzer-Murphy oversaw the entire Lady Rebel athletic program, as well as various support groups such as the Rebel Football Foundation, the Rebel Golf Foundation and the Women's Sports Foundation, which she helped create.
In 1983, she was named an assistant athletics director and in 1987 was promoted to senior assistant AD. Kunzer-Murphy became senior associate AD at the University of Pacific in 1992 but then soon returned to town to work for the Las Vegas 51s and Thunder professional sports franchises as director of corporate sales and marketing.
After UNLV moved to the Western Athletic Conference in 1996, Kunzer-Murphy was hired by the WAC to run its annual football championship game and men's and women's basketball championship events in Las Vegas.
Kunzer-Murphy returned to campus in 1999 when she was selected by ESPN Regional Television (ERT) to run the newly formed ESPN Regional at UNLV office, which oversaw the athletic department's corporate sales and broadcasting departments until 2005.
From 2000-12, Kunzer-Murphy served as Executive Director of the Las Vegas Bowl, which ERT purchased. Under her leadership, the bowl game enjoyed six consecutive sellouts from 2006-11, record-high TV ratings and team payouts en route to elevating itself into the national college football landscape
A 2007 inductee of the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame, Kunzer-Murphy in 2010 became the first woman to serve as Chairman of the Football Bowl Association. In summer 2011 she was honored as Las Vegas' Sportsperson of the Year as part of the annual "24-Hour Radiothon" staged by Lotus Broadcasting, which benefits The Caring Place, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to easing the journey of those affected by cancer.
Kunzer-Murphy returned to work for her alma mater in January of 2013 when she was named Director of Sponsorships and Development for the UNLV Alumni Association.
She has been married to former UNLV coach and local high school teacher and coach Greg Murphy since 1990. She has one son, Stephen, who is married to Ginny Broffett. The couple recently celebrated the birth of their first son, Jackson Thomas Kunzer, on Sept. 1, 2014.