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Did Nevada bureaucrats sandbag the job security of athletic commission boss finalists? Update: Aaron Davis of NJ backs out
By Zach Arnold | March 20, 2014
Talked w/ Andy Foster at @RFA show in L.A. in January. He paused and said he was happy and had no interest in the NSAC job. Too much drama.
— Brian Martin (@TheBMartin) March 19, 2014
An update to this article can be found at the bottom of the post.
There are some very nervous allies of California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Andy Foster right now. Whether or not Andy Foster lands the job as the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, his enemies now see an opportunity to exploit Wednesday’s news to their advantage.
For several months, Andy Foster has told people in California that he had no intentions of applying for the Nevada job opening. When we posted the job listing for the position on our site, the process seemed simple enough. And for the people applying, anonymity was crucial. In fact, it was a selling point by Nevada in trying to get people to apply in the first place.
And now those individuals who applied for the job under the impression of anonymity just got sandbagged in a big way. As a media writer, I appreciate the transparency in the hiring process. If I was a candidate on that list and my name was revealed on ESPN last night, I’d be crapping my pants right now. Why? If I’m working in Sacramento, Nashville, or Newark, I’d be watching my back carefully.
Anyone who has paid attention to commissions like California, Florida, and New York has an understanding of how personal and nasty the politics are for the individuals in those leadership roles. There are multiple factions and tens, if not hundreds of people looking to sabotage your gig so you can replaced by someone else. Our report yesterday on the Monday CSAC meeting in Los Angeles discussed how Andy Foster is now getting the same kind of financial threats from Sacramento’s Department of Consumer Affairs that George Dodd received two years ago.
I can’t factually point out the motive as to why Nevada released a list of 10 finalists for their Executive Director job. Perhaps it was a move done in good faith to demonstrate transparency. Perhaps it was to give some recognition to some of the applicants and let them shine in the same way that 15 and 16 seeded basketball teams are grateful to be in March Madness.
But if you’re a politico in a place like Sacramento or New York City, you’re looking at what Nevada did yesterday as a “fuck you” list. Basically, a public relations attempt to try to show off how everyone wants to jump ship from your lousy state to the supposed crown jewel of athletic commissions. Never underestimate the bitterness of the political fixers who run many of the bigger state athletic commissions.
Which brings us back to an individual like Andy Foster. He’s made some allies in California but has also burnt a whole lot of bridges. MMA-wise, you can make the argument that he’s made some positive changes. Boxing-wise when it comes to mid-level fights, the state is in disastrous shape right now with a lack of money marks willing to back promoters to bring fights to California. There’s also a lousy track record of approving some horrific mismatches on television cards.
If Andy Foster gets the Nevada job, he’s getting it because Lorenzo Fertitta & Marc Ratner see someone they can work with. He won’t screw up their business affairs. The boxing promoters, however, will not be happy whatsoever (no matter what they say to his face). Kevin Iole was questioning whether or not Jeff Mullen from Tennessee had the chops to handle boxing duties. I would reckon that Jeff is a safer pick for Nevada’s political & regulatory climate than Andy Foster is at this point in time.
It’s been a revealing week for Sacramento. Andy Foster getting outed by Nevada for applying for their job a few days after he outed DCA for financially threatening him over budget issues is a big signal that there is a lot of political trouble brewing for him. If the Nevada politicos select him for their job, it’s a lifeline and he will be expected to tow the UFC line in a big way. In many respects, it’s a natural fit for him on the MMA front but not so much on the boxing front given that he doesn’t like to go to many of those shows.
If Nevada doesn’t select Andy for their job, however… then he has major problems back home in Sacramento. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. Nevada just made Andy’s current job status in Sacramento a little bit more challenging. Some of the bosses in Consumer Affairs undoubtedly had to have been taken aback by the news that he applied for Nevada’s job. Regardless as to whether or not Nevada selects Andy Foster for their job, he’s now politically weakened in Sacramento due to Wednesday’s announcement.
- Andy Foster’s enemies will now pounce on the fact that he applied for the Nevada job by starting future negative campaigns against him on the ground that he’s not in California for the long-term and that he can’t be trusted to have the back of his current allies.
- Andy’s allies, in various conversations I’ve had over the last 24 hours, are growing increasingly nervous that he may not be able to keep some of the promises he has made to them and that he may not fully have their back. There are some powerful officials in the state who basically went all-in for Andy because they wanted top bookings or had financial interests at stake with Andy’s vision. Now that Andy’s name is linked to the Nevada position, some of the California officials who went all-in for Andy are now likely going to reconsider their commitment to him and his vision. In other words, some people are about to lose their spine. Why will they fight for his survival if he’s going to bolt to Nevada or get pushed out by the Sacramento politicos?
Bottom line: Nevada’s list of finalists being revealed is interesting fodder for writers. It’s also going to create some uncomfortable work situations back home for those who thought they were anonymously applying for the Nevada job.
Update: Fallout from list of candidates being revealed
On Friday morning, this public statement was issued on behalf of New Jersey’s Aaron Davis:
I am aware that the names of the 10 finalists for the position of Executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission have been publicly released
It is an honor to be among the 10 finalists.
Upon reflection and consultation with NJ state officials and family, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration.
I no longer consider myself a candidate for the position and look forward to remaining in New Jersey.
I wish Nevada the best in filling the position and look forward to working with that individual in any future matters.
Commissioner Aaron M. Davis
New Jersey State Athletic Control Board
Friday, March 21, 2014
The two favorites for the job are supposedly Andy Foster and Jeff Mullen.