Tony Sanchez wasn’t a conventional choice to take over as head coach of UNLV football two years ago, but athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy made the decision to pluck him from the high school ranks and put him in charge of the Rebels.
For that reason, Sanchez and Kunzer-Murphy will always be linked together in the annals of UNLV history. On Tuesday, one day after it was announced that Kunzer-Murphy will serve as athletic director for one more academic year before moving onto a fundraising role on July 1, 2017, Sanchez spoke about his connection to the woman that took a chance on him.
“I think everybody in our athletic department, including all our coaches, have tremendous respect for Tina,” Sanchez said. “She bleeds Rebel red. She loves this place. She works extremely hard. I know everything she did was with good intent to move this program forward. When she got here, there were a lot of things that needed to get better. I think there are a lot of positive things she’s done to move us in the right direction.”
The hiring of Sanchez looks to be one of those positives. In his second year at the helm, the Rebels appear to be on the upswing and could be positioned to make a leap forward in the next two seasons. The program will break ground on a new practice facility in the spring, and it may not be long before the football team has a new stadium to call home.
Sanchez said he’s confident that whoever the next athletic director turns out to be, the future of the football program will remain bright.
“I’m sure Tina and [UNLV president Len Jessup] have talked,” he said. “I know when Len makes the decision on who comes in next, it will continue to help not just football, but our entire athletic department. And I know Tina is 100 percent going to do whatever she can to see that transition happen smoothly.”