Tina Kunzer-Murphy will serve as UNLV’s athletic director until July 1, 2017, and then transition to a fundraising role with the Rebel Foundation, the university announced Monday.
Kunzer-Murphy’s contract was originally set to expire at the end of December, but the new six-month extension will take her through the next academic year and give the school plenty of time to line up a replacement.
A UNLV alum, Kunzer-Murphy was named athletic director on July 1, 2013, and she has certainly left her mark on the Rebels during her time as AD. A few of the more noteworthy developments during her tenure:
- After Kunzer-Murphy took over, she extended the contracts of the football, baseball and men’s basketball coaches, only to eventually fire all three before those extensions were up.
- She made national headlines with her risky hire of Tony Sanchez to lead the football program. Tapping Sanchez straight out of the high school ranks was widely thought to be a move orchestrated by the Fertitta family, but Kunzer-Murphy fiercely defended the decision as her own. The Fertittas later donated $10 million toward the construction of a new football practice facility.
- She made the controversial call to fire Dave Rice just three games into the Mountain West schedule last year, believing that the early dismissal would give the school a head start on hiring a replacement. Instead, the coaching search turned into a sideshow, as the Rebels were spurned on the tarmac by Mick Cronin and ditched after two weeks by Chris Beard before finally reaching an agreement with Marvin Menzies.
- Some of Kunzer-Murphy’s best work came on the APR front, as she guided the football team through stormy waters and avoided a postseason ban in 2014. Under her watch, all 17 UNLV sports are eligible for postseason play this year, with six sports earning perfect APR scores.
Whoever the next AD turns out to be, that person is going to have their hands full. UNLV seems intent on joining a Power 5 conference, and the new hire is going to have to shepherd the school toward that goal.
In the meantime, before Kunzer-Murphy leaves the position next summer she’ll oversee the groundbreaking of the new football practice facility in the spring, and possibly the approval of a new football stadium (if the NFL owners vote on the Raiders’ relocation in March).