My observation is that he was forced out by President Neal Smatresk. While the president doesn’t need permission from the Board of Regents to make such a move, it would be interesting to know whether any regents were contacted prior to the announcement of the president’s decision.
The consensus of the loyal fans, donors and boosters with whom I have spoken is that the handling of Mr. Livengood is reminiscent of the way Jerry Tarkanian was fired. Simply put, both terminations were mishandled. Many of us remember how many decades it took to get UNLV athletics back on track, and my view is that things changed for the good with the hiring of Livengood as Athletic Director.
One of Jim’s greatest strengths was his handling of the fan base, whether financial supporters or otherwise. He was constantly willing to meet for breakfast, lunch and dinner and he was always available for speaking engagements literally anywhere in southern Nevada. He treated everyone he met as his friend, and it didn’t appear to matter whether one was a student, laborer or CEO of some big company, all were treated with respect and dignity.
And that’s not all.
An article written on January 10, 2011 by Ray Brewer details some of what the UNLV Athletic Department has accomplished in fund raising since the hiring of Livengood. In recent years, the fund raising has been headed in the right direction! In fact, I am certain the most current year’s figures will compare most favorably with previous years’ results. Did the president take this most important aspect of the AD’s job into consideration as he was meeting with Jim?
I only hope Livengood’s successor follows his example and really has the capacity to fill his shoes in every important way. Between 1992 and 2009 there were four UNLV athletic directors and three interims. It is a sad thing to realize that when we get a quality AD, we can’t keep him.
My wife, Sandy, and I pledged $250,000.000 to the athletic fund. We did not do so because of the school president, but it was because of Jim Livengood and Julio Freire and their effective leadership.
Actually, we made an important condition to that pledge: It was good so long as Livengood was at UNLV. We are so upset we have not yet decided whether we will donate the $50,000 this year in light of what has most recently happened. While we will purchase 93 scholarship season football tickets and 25 scholarship basketball tickets, we still have some thinking to do about the rest.
I have also observed that many supporters feel that with Jim Livengood’s departure, the logical choice to succeed him is Julio Freire.
Julio was trained by one of the finest, most effective AD’s in the country and would make a great AD. He has shown that education, hard work, dedication, loyalty and determination can create opportunity. His modest beginnings as a child in Tijuana, Mexico followed by his assent through school and professional career tell an incredible story, and define the qualities UNLV will need now and in the future.
Julio is personally experienced as a college athlete, knows the donors, is highly regarded by others in the industry and by those with whom he has worked, and is otherwise qualified to be athletic director. Here’s hoping he gets an honest chance to land the job.
My view is that with the departure of Jim Livengood, UNLV is the biggest loser. Can the university make the right choice going forward? That is the real question on many minds.
(Mr. Ellis owns SNAP Towing and lives in Henderson, Nevada)