Athletic Director Doug Knuth: Out With the Old, In With the New

Doug Knuth didn’t always dream of a career in athletics. Growing up outside of New York, he dreamed of working on Wall Street.

“It’s kind of like some people watch Sportscenter, you know? They watch ESPN, they watch Sportscenter and say, ‘Like wow, it must be great to work in sports,’” he said, smiling. “Well I’m the guy who works in sports, and I watch the financial shows and go, ‘Man it must be great to work on Wall Street.’”

Doug Knuth, the athletic director at the University of Nevada, Reno, smiling in an interview with Timothy Twelker.

Knuth, the athletic director at the University of Nevada, Reno, feels lucky to be where he is today. But this year, he’s had to make some tough decisions. As athletic director, Knuth is in charge of all 16 athletic programs at the University, the budget of the athletic department, and he supervises the coordination of all the University’s athletic events. In the world of intercollegiate sports, coaches and players come and go often, and he has to fill those vacancies.

Former head baseball coach Jay Johnson left the University of Nevada, Reno, to pursue a career in the Pac-12 this past June. Knuth was faced with the tough task of replacing a conference-winning baseball coach. Even more difficult to replace was the character of Johnson.

“The thing that we miss most about Jay is not necessarily the coaching, but he’s just a good guy,” Knuth said.

In looking for coaching candidates, Knuth said that he looks for three things: the ability to recruit, the ability to develop talent and the ability to engage the community. The last criterion, engaging the community, is a focus of Knuth particularly at the University of Nevada, Reno, because it relies so heavily on donations from alumni and corporate sponsors. Since moving into the Mountain West Conference, the athletic department at the University has been at a disadvantage in terms of budget and facilities. Knuth has done much to even the playing field, balancing the budget in only two years of tenure. Still, the University of Nevada, Reno, lacks in crucial areas. To make up for that, Knuth hires coaches that will garner the support it needs from the community.

Knuth, in another difficult decision, fired David Carter in the off-season because of a loss of support from the community. He found a replacement in Eric Musselman, a coach with an astounding 566 career wins, and a resume including NBA teams such as the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings.

Outside of the athletic sphere, Knuth is happy living in Reno. His wife grew up in Reno, and she is enjoying being back in the community where she feels comfortable.

As for his two kids, Knuth said, “They are just loving it, absolutely loving it.”

Knuth couldn’t imagine his situation being any better, saying, “This may be the most welcoming community I’ve ever lived in.”

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