Livengood’s work at UNLV rated one of top 10 stories in Las Vegasby Javier Morales on Dec. 26, 2010, under Sports
RELATED LINK: The hiring of Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne rates as the UA’s No. 1 story of the year in a poll presented in an Anthony Gimino TucsonCitizen.com blog last week.
Although former Arizona athletic director Jim Livengood was hired last December by UNLV, he cracked the top 10 of the top stories in 2010 in Las Vegas, as reported today by Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Columnists Ed Graney and Ron Kantowski each rated Livengood’s work as No. 10 on the list. Kantowski included the ruled suicide of former UA women’s golfer Erica Blasberg, a Henderson, Nev., resident, as the No. 9 sports story of 2010 in the Las Vegas area.
Graney writes that in comparison to former UNLV athletic director Mike Hamrick, Livengood’s guidance means “UNLV athletics might have a chance.”
In the span of 14 months, Livengood hired Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller in April 2009, UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck last December and then Rebels baseball coach Tim Chambers this June.
“(Hauck and Chambers) could change the fortunes of both programs,” Graney writes.
Miller’s hire at Arizona to resurrect the Wildcats’ storied program under Lute Olson is arguably the best move Livengood made in his 16 years at Arizona. His hire of Mike Stoops has also proven to be a good acquisition, especially after his horrendous hire of John Mackovic, which set the program back a few years.
Livengood’s fund-raising effort was one of his strengths at Arizona and he is exhibiting that at UNLV as well.
“(Livengood) announced a new, state-of-the-art basketball practice facility,” Graney writes, “restructured the department, reorganized fundraising and facility upgrade efforts, and had one more sit-down with local media to discuss the program’s vision than Hamrick had in six years.”
In terms of the media roundtable Livengood holds occasionally, he may have taken a page of out new Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne‘s book. Although Livengood was respectful and accomodating to the media covering the Wildcats, he did not hold such meetings in Tucson.
Byrne has shown to be more media, particularly more social media, savvy than Livengood, 65, was in his tenure. Much of that has to do with Byrne, 39, being from a younger generation than his predecessor.
Kantowski writes, “Livengood has shown remarkable energy for a man who has been there, done that. He believes the athletic program needs to become self-sufficient.”
The death of Blasberg, a 25-year-old LPGA golfer who was the No. 1 rated golfer in the country when she was a freshman at Arizona in 2003, was ruled a suicide by police but mystery surrounds her sudden death in May. Sports Illustrated ran a detailed article on Blasberg’s background and actions leading up to her death in its Dec. 13 edition.
“(Blasberg) had cover-girl looks, massive potential, (and) a swing that made the men at the country club envious,” Kantowski writes.