Livengood: UNLV exploring its options

With Mountain West Conference landscape continuing to change, UNLV keeping its head on a swivel

There’s this much to know: UNLV is exploring all of its options as the conference realignment carousel continues to turn, and at the same time, the school is not looking to separate its programs into different conferences.

UNLV athletics director Jim Livengood confirmed that much on Wednesday after Boise State and San Diego State made their defections from the Mountain West Conference starting in the 2013-14 athletic season official.

Both schools will become football-only members of the Big East, while Boise State will re-join the WAC in all other sports. The new home of San Diego State’s other programs — most notably men’s basketball — is not yet known.

“Absolutely,” Livengood said when asked if UNLV is looking at potential conference homes outside of the Mountain West. “I can’t get into great detail for obvious reasons, but absolutely.

“There are other options, we’re looking at those, and we’re going to be fine.”

One option involves staying put, of course. It appears likely that the originally-planned football-only merger between the Mountain West and Conference USA is going to develop soon into an all-sports merger.

Staying in that league would give UNLV’s football program a chance to improve, given the the conference’s projected landscape. And while the concerns of almost everyone locally revolve around the future of UNLV’s men’s basketball program, Livengood maintains that getting the football program on track is his top priority.

He gave second-year coach Bobby Hauck a two-year extension through 2015 before this season, but the Rebels are just 4-21 in his two seasons since inheriting a program that was in rough shape. The two bright spots on the horizon are the possibility of a 50,000-seat on-campus stadium that is still far from finalized, and the fact that much of Hauck’s young 2011 team is back in 2012 with a year under its belt and a much more manageable schedule to tackle.

“The issue is making Rebel football relevant,” he said. “I believe we’re on track for that. All of the movement taking place so far has been football-related. IT leads you to believe that football, obviously, is very important. At the same time, I’m not going to do anything that’s going to jeopardize our other programs.”

With that said, Livengood maintains that he will not split up his programs in the same fashion that Boise State and San Diego State are preparing to do. He also said that, even if UNLV is able to make its new on-campus football stadium happen, he won’t be looking to try and squeeze the school into one of the BCS conferences, such as the Pac-12 or the Big 12. It appears that UNLV’s current options would involve either staying put or moving somewhere else where the football program could potentially thrive, such as the WAC, for example.

“This is not a time to cry and say ‘woe is us’ or ‘woe is me,'” he said. “I think there are some really good options out there.”