So, it’s a Friday. Are you wearing Rebel gear? Remember, every Friday is Get Your Reb On Friday!
What an absolutely AMAZING week it’s been to be a part of UNLV Athletics & Entertainment. Even more important, what a great week it’s been to be a part of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. There are so many exciting things going on right now, I hope you’ll take a moment to read this update and I hope my genuine excitement for everything UNLV comes through.
Linda and I are so glad we are here in Las Vegas, Nevada, at this time. We have our challenges, but teaming with the right people to take those challenges head-on is what makes this experience so special.
UNLV “campus village” and on-campus stadium
I have received so many phone calls and emails since Majestic Realty’s press conference on Tuesday regarding the “campus village” and on-campus stadium concept that is being proposed. People are excited as they sense – like many of us involved do – that this project has a chance to transform both UNLV and Las Vegas.
As you are probably aware, Majestic is proposing to develop an approximately 150 acre mixed-use project on the UNLV campus with development rights conveyed through a participating ground lease agreement between Majestic and UNLV. Most major universities have “campus villages” nearby, with restaurants, college oriented retail, campus housing and residential areas, and entertainment venues. Most major state institutions also have sports located on their campus to promote a better sense of community and to encourage student participation. This project – brought to us by visionaries Ed Roskie and Craig Cavileer of Majestic – would bring both of those concepts to UNLV.
There is much more to learn and to get worked out, but this is such a great starting point. We will seek Board of Regents approval to proceed in discussions to create a public/private partnership between UNLV and Majestic at a Feb. 11 special meeting … For more information on the project, we invite you to visit UNLVNow.com.
On the football side of things, this is obviously a game-changer. It would help to redefine Rebel Football immediately and into the future. But that being said, this is about much more than football. This is about the future of UNLV, the future of Las Vegas and – quite frankly – the future of Nevada. This is our opportunity to define our future with higher education at the forefront. And strong higher education leads to economic development and economic diversification.
And on one final note, as UNLV supporters, you should feel great about having a university president like Neal Smatresk leading the way. He serves with passion and he serves to better our students and our community. This project is a possibility because of his vision.
Football National Signing Day
Having been through decades of football signing days, you can get a sense of when coaches are genuinely excited about their recruiting classes. This past Wednesday, head football coach Bobby Hauck was a man feeling good about what he and his staff were able to accomplish this recruiting period.
What has stuck out to a lot of people is the size of the recruits. Offensive and defensive linemen at 6-7, 6-6 and 6-5. Quarterbacks at 6-5 and 6-4. A high school running back at 245 pounds. It will take a couple of years to really see the impact of this recruiting class, but it will fun to watch these guys grow and help to establish the new winning culture here with Rebel Football.
Here is one quote from Bobby on Wednesday that I wanted to share. “This was a good day for UNLV, a real good day. Rebel Football took a big step forward with this recruiting class. These guys are big, tough football players and along with last year’s class, will be the basis for success in the future.”
I will continue to preach patience as we grow a program that has had just two winning seasons in the past two decades, but when this thing gets going, fans are going to love being a part of it. At this time, we ask you to do one thing. Simply click this link and visit our website to find out a little more information on the 23 young men who became Rebels earlier this week. Some of their names are going to become very familiar to you in the years to come.
A little more Rebel Football info
I saw a few notes this week I wanted to share. The more our fans know about our football program, the more you can help us grow it. Some of this information really jumped out at me and made me feel good about the future:
Spring practice starts Feb. 28 and the Spring Game will be April 2. All practices are open to the public. Come out and see this young team get better.
Lon Kruger and Las Vegas
Lon Kruger’s reputation in this business is impeccable. His track record is astonishing when you look at him being at five different college programs and winning with those programs at every single stop. We’re fortunate he has decided this is the place he will make his biggest mark. Having a chance to work with him was one of the reasons I was attracted to UNLV. But the thing that has surprised me the most since being here is experiencing his true impact on this community. Whether it is his work with Coaches vs. Cancer, supporting education, helping students to learn about healthy lifestyles or advocating for homeless youth, he’s made a difference here in Las Vegas and people love him and Barb for that.
As a department, we are committed to expanding that vision of serving this community through our community outreach efforts. And, as my role as athletics director, I’m also committed to helping Lon and the basketball program to have the resources it needs to compete at the highest level possible. What Lon has done to revitalize this program on a national level over the past five seasons has been tremendous. I’m excited for our future together building upon that.
Pink Zone Game for Lady Rebels
We hope you will come out tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 5) at 2:30 p.m. as our Lady Rebels take on BYU at the Cox Pavilion. Wear Pink and get in for just $1. It’s the annual Pink Zone Game for Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Women’s college basketball teams are fortunate to team with the Susan G. Komen Foundation in this great effort. And, remember, kids 12-and-under are always free.
Next Friday (Feb. 11), our Rebel Softball team will open the season at home in the Sportco Kick-Off Classic at 3:45 p.m. against Mississippi State. The team was recently picked to finish third in the Mountain West Conference and is returning 12 letterwinners from a season ago, including three-time All-MWC performer Ashli Holland. Head coach Pete Manarino is one of the good guys in this profession and a proven coach. College softball is a great spectator sport. We hope you’ll give it a try this year. And, remember - again, kids 12-and-under are always free.
Rugby Sevens next weekend at Sam Boyd Stadium
The 2011 USA Sevens Rugby event is being held next weekend (Feb. 12-13) at Sam Boyd Stadium … Rugby Sevens is a future Olympic sport and is one of the fastest-growing sports in popularity in the world. It’s fast-paced – like having several option quarterbacks on the field at one time. Part of the event is scheduled to be televised live on NBC. Check it out. You are going to like what you see … For tickets, visit UNLVtickets.com or call (702) 739-FANS.
Rebel Athletic Fund renewals - Due date is May 20
Just another reminder as this is important to all of us … Please be on the lookout for your Rebel Athletic Fund (RAF) renewals to be sent out in early March (as well as football season ticket renewals). Due date for RAF renewals for the 2011-12 sports seasons will be May 20, 2011 - to be either paid in full or to have begun a payment plan ... We have had a major increase in the number of requests to upgrade ticket locations at basketball games so the May 20 deadline will be crucial. You'll be hearing much more about the May 20 RAF deadline in the near future.
A Couple More Rebel Notes
Mark Friday, Feb. 18 at 6:05 p.m. down on your calendar. That is the season opener for Tim Chambers and his Rebel baseball team against Maine. Tickets are just $7 and kids 12-and-under are always free. We’re going to have a blast out at Wilson Stadium this season and in seasons to come … Tickets to next Saturday’s 5 p.m. home men’s basketball game against No. 6/7 San Diego State have sold very well. Get yours early if you don’t have them yet … Just a thought: We are lucky to have men’s golf coach Dwaine Knight as part of UNLV Athletics … Congrats to our Director of Community Outreach Bridget Byrne, who was selected by In Business Las Vegas as a “Woman to Watch” for 2011. Byrne, who is tremendous at what she does for our student-athletes, is a former UNLV student-athlete herself and has two degrees from UNLV.
As always, thank you for your support of our student-athletes through UNLV Athletics & Entertainment. We appreciate all that you do.
Have a great weekend and GO REBELS!