Doug Knuth can’t wait to move to Northern Nevada.
“I’d come tomorrow but my wife wouldn’t like that,” smiled the next Nevada Wolf Pack athletic director. “But I’m real excited.”
Knuth, who was approved by the Nevada Board of Regents last week to replace outgoing athletic director Cary Groth, will start work on April 22. The 40-year-old knows he has a lot of challenges ahead.
“This is going to take time,” said Knuth, who has worked for the University of Utah athletic department since 2005. “It’s going to be a challenge and it’s going to take a lot of work.”
Knuth, a former tennis player at the University of Connecticut, has also worked in the athletic departments at Connecticut (1994-96), Massachusetts (1996-98), Ohio (1998-2000) and Michigan State (2000-05).
He spoke Thursday at Legacy Hall in his first press conference of developing a plan for Wolf Pack success.
“There’s an old saying, ‘If you don’t have a plan of where you want to go, then any path will get you there,”’ said Knuth, who will earn $285,000 a year plus incentives over the next three years. “We want a plan. We will have a definite goal of where we want to be and a definite plan of how to get there. We will have a well thought out and strategic plan for success.
“Every single sport, every single department will have a plan for success.”
That plan, he said, starts with the Nevada student athletes.
“We will put the student athlete on the top of our organizational chart with the administration, coaches and athletic director at the bottom,” he said. “It’s symbolic but it’s also real. We exist for the student athlete. I want our student athletes to have a great experience here.”
Knuth exuded a ton of energy on Thursday.
“I call it the power of positive athletics,” he said. “The athletic department can shine a bright spotlight on the university. When we win, everybody wins. When we win, the students win. When we win, the university wins. When we win, the community wins. And when we win, the entire state wins.”
Knuth, who has excelled at fundraising during his career, said building a positive relationship with the community is a priority.
“We have to invite and engage people to support our programs,” Knuth said. “And for them to invest in you, they have to feel good about what you are doing. We have to be great partners with the community.”
Knuth said he is coming to Nevada because of all the positive feedback he received during his interview process this past month.
“This opportunity is fantastic,” he said. “This department, this school, this community, has nothing but upside. I got a chance to talk to a lot of people and everyone wants to see us win. It’s all up from here.”
Knuth added that he isn’t coming to northern Nevada with any preconceived ideas.
“I will do a lot of listening,” he said. “There is a lot of listening to be done and a lot of learning. I’ve got to talk to coaches, learn our strengths and weaknesses. I can’t do that without first listening.”
The Wolf Pack future, Knuth said, is bright.
“My focus will be on diplomas first and then championships,” he said. “I want every single one of our student athletes to leave here with a degree. And when they are here I want them to be in a position to compete for championships.
“We’re going to win and we’re going to compete for championships.”