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UNLV Hires New Athletic Director -- What Are Her Top Priorities?

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Desiree Reed-Francois joins the Rebels from Virginia Tech, where she was deputy athletic director.

Desiree Reed-Francois has been the deputy athletic director of Virginia Tech. But as of July 1, she will be in charge of Rebel athletics.

Reed-Francois is replacing Tina Kunzer-Murphy, who is joining the university's foundation.

It's being reported UNLV is the first Division 1 university to hire two women in succession as athletic directors.

What does Reed-Francois' hire mean for UNLV?

Mitch Moss with ESPN Las Vegas told State of Nevada that he believes Reed-Francois is a good pick for the job.

"I think her resume speaks for itself," he said.

She's worked with the Oakland Raiders in the past and with colleges in Tennessee and California. Besides her strong resume, it is her status as someone from outside of Las Vegas that Moss is happy about. 

"I think most importantly -- to me any way -- it's about having new blood and bringing somebody from outside Las Vegas with a new perspective and that's why I like the hire," he said.

While it might be argued by some fans getting new coaches to turn around the men's basketball and football programs should be a priority for Reed-Francois,  Moss believes those two coaches should stay in place and the new AD's first priority should be something else entirely.

"To correct the $4.9 million [budget] deficit -- that to me would be at the top of the list," he said. "In that comes in finding a way to get more fans in the seats at the Thomas & Mack and at Sam Boyd Stadium."

He said that UNLV Athletics faces much stiffer competition now that the Vegas Golden Knights will be taking the ice this fall and the Raiders will be arriving in the next few years. But he pointed to her work at Virginia Tech as a sign that she has the know how to improve programs.

"Under her watch, the overall ticket, marketing and licensing revenue rose by more than 20 percent in the last couple of years," he said. "So, hopefully that's going to be the end game here for her, overlooking the two major facilities here in Las Vegas -- the Thomas & Mack and Sam Boyd."

 

Mitch Moss, ESPN Las Vegas

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Casey Morell is the coordinating producer of Nevada Public Radio's flagship broadcast State of Nevada and one of the station's midday newscast announcers. (He's also been interviewed by Jimmy Fallon, whatever that's worth.)