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UA football notes: UNLV's Robinson set to become Rebel AD

By Maxx Wolfson

Tuesday September 18, 2001

Talk about having great job security.

UNLV head football coach John Robinson was hired to become the next athletic director at University of Nevada, Las Vegas in August and will take over for the departed Charles Cavagnaro on January 1.

In Robinson's two years as the football coach at UNLV, he has resurrected a winless team into one that won eight games last year.

"We're not a major program or anything like that," Robinson said. "We're not comparing ourselves to a program like Arizona. There is a significant difference. However, we're improving and have the potential for great growth. I think we are capable of that."

UA head coach John Mackovic knows what type of task Robinson has ahead of him - Mackovic was both the head coach and athletic director at Illinois from 1989-91.

Mackovic said that he is happy to see that more coaches are getting into administrative positions.

"I think it's great for him and it's great for UNLV to give him a chance," Mackovic said. "He's been a leader, he's intelligent and he has great values. (After) all that UNLV has been through - that would be a really good thing for them to have him as their athletic director."

Robinson, 66, has made remarkable progress with his football team and will have a tough time putting back the pieces of a once-proud basketball program.

The Rebel basketball team fired its coach Billy Bayno, while the UNLV basketball was put on probation for four years and had to give up scholarships.

The sanctions stemmed mainly from cash and improper benefits given to recruit and current Los Angeles Clipper Lamar Odom in 1997 by UNLV booster Dr. David Chapman, a Las Vegas dentist. The NCAA determined he provided Odom with $5,600 in cash and other benefits.

Robinson said that he is ready for the challenge.

"I'm not going to sit behind a desk," he said. "I don't sit behind a desk as a football coach and I'm not going to as an athletic director. I see it as a leadership, fundraising and visionary position."

Mackovic said that UNLV made the right choice in giving the job to Robinson.

"I think it's a good move for them and good for athletics," Mackovic said. "They're going to be great for the (Mountain West Conference) to have a coach sitting in with the athletic directors. He will be giving the perspective of coaches and students and what goes on there."

After two weeks to rest its injured players, the Wildcats will head into Saturday's game against UNLV in pretty good health.

However, freshman defensive end Fata Avegalio, who Mackovic said is eager to get back on the field after dislocating his elbow against Idaho two weeks ago, will still be out at least three more weeks.

Avegalio said he told Mackovic that he is ready to return as soon as possible.

"The doctors are still cautious about him," Mackovic said. "I can understand the concern for making sure he is ready to go. According to him, he is ready. He will tell you, 'I can go play right now.' He may beat the clock and play a little sooner than anticipated."

Senior defensive lineman Austin Uku returned to practice last week and should be able to play most of the game Saturday against UNLV, Mackovic said.

"I don't think he will be limited at all," Mackovic said. "It doesn't mean he will play every down."

Both junior offensive lineman John Vorsheck (ankle) and senior defensive tackle Anthony Thomas remain questionable for Saturday.

Mackovic said that senior defensive end Eli Wnek (ankle) will be ready in about one month.

The UA Marching Band will show its American spirit on Saturday when it will play "God Bless America," "America the Beautiful," and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

"God Bless America" was played last night instead of the usual "Take me out to the ballgame" during the seventh-inning stretch of all six Major League Baseball games.

The UA band was heard practicing the song yesterday at Bear Down Field.


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