SBD/May 9, 2013/Colleges

UNLV AD Livengood Announces Retirement; Strained Relationship With President To Blame?

Livengood insisted that UNLV administration did not force him out
UNLV AD Jim Livengood yesterday announced he would "step away after three and a half years," with his resignation effective June 30, according to Taylor Bern of the LAS VEGAS SUN. Speculation "immediately swirled about the timing of the announcement with some boosters suggesting UNLV President Neal Smatresk essentially forced out Livengood." But both men "say that’s not reality." Among many possible factors in "hastening that decision could be a meeting between Livengood and Smatresk in the past month, during which Smatresk reportedly got upset and put a lot of blame for the football program’s struggles on Livengood." However, Livengood said that he "didn’t think anything that was said was unfair." The school's Board of Regents in June '12 approved "a three-year extension for Livengood that keeps him under contract from Dec. 17, 2012, through Dec. 16, 2015, at a base salary of $350,000." Livengood said that UNLV "would not ... buy him out of the rest of that deal." He added, "That’s my decision." Bern writes the perceived "head-butting between people from athletics and academics" on the UNLV Now project and proposed upgrades to the Thomas & Mack Center "could be a factor in the timing of Livengood’s exit." Smatresk said that "neither project would be affected by Livengood’s departure" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 5/9). In Las Vegas, Mark Anderson notes Livengood "stuck by his contention" that football coach Bobby Hauck "was the right hire, saying that soon will be proven out." He added that the next AD would "be better served to get the Thomas & Mack back under the umbrella of the athletic department" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/9).

SOMETHING AMISS? The REVIEW-JOURNAL's Ed Graney writes of Livengood, "This is not how you would think arguably the finest AD in a program's history would go out." A definite "line of disagreement exists between one side of campus and the other, differing philosophies on how best to grow UNLV athletics." No AD in the country is "forced to deal with the sort of contentious relationship for control that exists at UNLV between athletics and the Thomas & Mack." The relationship between president and AD "has been strained for some time." This is "what happens when presidents become too involved in sports" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 5/9). In Las Vegas, Ray Brewer writes under the header, "Jim Livengood's 'Retirement' Doesn't Feel Right." Livengood yesterday "repeatedly denied notions of friction" between he and Smatresk. Livengood added that he "wasn't being forced out and retiring now seemed like the right time." But Brewer writes, "If that's what you want to believe." Livengood has been a "great ambassador for the university and always finds something positive to say in the face of adversity." Even yesterday he "raved about his time at UNLV, refusing to take the bait of some questions to talk negatively about the school" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 5/9).
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