Rich Ryerson quietly coaching his final football game at UNLV

UNLV has qualified for the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament seven times in 47 years, and Rich Ryerson has been part of five of those appearances as a player or coach.

So one would think that when it came to leaving the program after being an integral part of it, he would have been allowed to do so on his terms.

Not the case.

As she has done for so many coaches who were in school before her, UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois pushed Ryerson out the door during a meeting this summer when he agreed that this season would be his last.

Ryerson, 56, coached his last game last weekend – three months after Reed-Francois quit to take up the athletic director job at Missouri.

“I was hoping maybe to stay a little longer, even though we kind of went through this resignation process with Desiree,” Ryerson said.

As a player, Ryerson participated in a school record 84 games as a midfielder from 1983 to 1986. In 12 years as a coach, he guided UNLV to a record of 96-108-16 after inheriting a troubled program.

In 2014, he took the Rebels to the NCAA Championship Tournament for the first time in 26 seasons – the first of UNLV’s two trips to the NCAA under his leadership.

He also helped save the program by raising funds to keep it afloat in any way possible, including selling fireworks at roadside stands and tickets to the musical “Hamilton.”

“In 2010 I was told you had 24 hours to come up with $2 million,” Ryerson said of teaming up with fellow former UNLV football player Tim McGarry of the Engelstad Family Foundation. and keep men’s football out.

Ryerson has also recruited local players. In a successful season, all 11 UNLV starters came from Nevada. Ryerson was proud of the performance of its players in the class that produced dozens of first-generation college graduates.

So many great stories, Ryerson said. Like Ryan Harding, the former Rebels goaltender who missed his junior season while being treated for cancer before returning the following year and making a key save in the Western Athletic Championship chase. UNLV Conference.

Ryerson said he would like to continue fundraising for athletics, but if that doesn’t happen, “we have to figure out what’s next.”

“I loved every minute, the ups and downs,” he said of his long run on a football pitch that won’t seem the same without him. “Looking back on it, I couldn’t be happier.”

around the horn

■ A day after Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosted the 1,000th NHRA Race Meeting, more history was made on the local Strip when Travis Shumake, the drag race’s first openly gay racer, filled the conditions to obtain its Funny Car license with a run of 3.963 seconds at 304.05 mph.

“As a completely unsponsored Funny Car driver, I need to find funding,” said Shumake, who began the license pursuit in early October with a 4.009-319.62 pass at the Texas Metroplex. outside Dallas.

The NHRA, which has produced female, African American and Hispanic champions, has a long history of diversity.

■ Nice touch from the UNLV Sports Information Service in reserving the No. 1 seat in the press box at Allegiant Stadium during Saturday’s Hawaii-UNLV game for Robert Kekaula, the longtime and revered voice of Warriors sports died at 56 in June. A tribute to Kekaula was shown on the video boards before kick-off.

0:01

Agent Scott Boras, on his Las Vegas free agent client Kris Bryant, during Boras’ annual “State of the Boras Corp” address:

“He’s tall, he’s got stature, he’s kind of the Sean Connery of Major League Baseball. Like Sean Connery, he has a positional versatility that makes him untouchable. It has Bond-type abilities to create a great mid-range.

“He’s still hot in the hunt for October. He’s an extraordinary gentleman, and he’s in a class of his own. Bryant has many roles, but they are all his.

Do you think that also makes Boras Dr. No?

Contact Ron Kantowski at [email protected] or 702-383-0352. To follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.