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Bizarre interview process for Nevada athletic commission will lead to Friday decision

By Zach Arnold | April 12, 2014

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It was the silly season for Skip Avansino and company today in Las Vegas, both figuratively and literally. Who knew that a prerequisite for the job would involve a politico asking a candidate like Andy Foster, on the spot, to start an impromptu comedy routine and tell jokes to show that he has a sense of humor?

Saturday’s “interview” process in Las Vegas was something to behold. The top three candidates for the Executive Director job are: Mike Martino (athletic inspector), Andy Foster (California figurehead), and Jeff Mullen (Tennessee boss). Heading into the Saturday call, about half my sources claimed Andy had the job and the other half claimed Mullen had it. And these were heavyweight sources. So, obviously if there is a winner already selected, it’s being kept hidden in closed-door deliberations.

But the interview process itself gave me pause to think that there is not a unified front in Nevada and that is something unacceptable in the Sig Rogich & Marc Ratner playbook. Plus, as admitted on the Saturday call, they did not want their decision to “overshadow” the Pacquiao/Bradley fight. So why the hell did they book it on a Saturday afternoon then?

My guess is that there was a favorite heading into the interview process and the politicos got cold feet.

It’s entirely possible that Jeff Mullen was the favorite and that Nevada got cold feet after his interview. He interviewed last. Jeff is a very substantive, honest broker who just does his job right. But he’s not a flashy talker or showman. And at times during the interview process he seemed in awe of everything. What caught my attention right away was the fact that the politicos spent time grilling Jeff over statements he had written regarding drug testing standards and how glad he was that they got rid of permission slips for testosterone usage. Jeff was repeatedly asked if he would be willing to enforce Nevada’s drug testing standards & protocols first over ABC or other drug testing protocols. It was clear that Jeff’s strong stance on drug testing spooked Nevada a bit. And have you noticed that Nevada still has not exactly disclosed what their “enhanced” drug testing is? Perhaps it doesn’t include Carbon Isotope Ratio testing or testing for EPO?

As for the interview with Andy Foster, I found it to be a fascinating exercise. He started out very strong, as he is wont to do, when it is about putting himself over and putting over general concepts. The big picture. It’s when he gets caught up in the actual details or is backed against a wall that he gets dragged down. I thought the politicos were actually very soft on him in the interview process, to the point that I was convinced they were going to hire him right then and there. But then some minor questions were asked out of left field and I don’t think anyone would be prepared to answer them. For example, Andy was asked how he would deal with celebrities flooding him with ticket requests for big fights. He was asked what his relationship with boxing sanctioning bodies would be like. Andy spent so much time touting administrative & political & economic thoughts but not so much time on such tedious questions.

His line about not booking mismatches in boxing in California during his 18 month tenure is horribly & demonstrably false.

I expected Andy to put up his portrait & painting of how California looks versus what is the reality on the ground. I get that. California is a mess and it’s deterioriating further because of a lot of factors, some in Andy’s control and some definitely not so much. But it was really interesting to hear him spend a lot of his time talking and emphasizing about his experiences in Georgia and what he did there as opposed to what happened in California. California was treated as a different beast whereas Georgia was more like a “normal” commission and along the lines of how Nevada works. In many regards, it is true. There is nothing like Sacramento anywhere else, perhaps except Tallahassee. But the emphasis on Georgia was something to listen to. And so was Andy’s focus on being a political mover and shaker. He talked about how he was once a congressional page.

When it came time to make a decision on a new Executive Director, you could tell right away that there was not a unified front. So, the politicos decided to hold off until Friday to make a decision. Can’t wait to see what a week this will be in Sacramento. The delay in making a decision puts the finalists in a position where they are twisting in the wind for a few more uncomfortable days. It wasn’t surprising to see the self-centered nature of Nevada egos on display but it was still obnoxious nonetheless.

Let’s put it this way: I think Jeff Mullen is the most qualified candidate for the job. I think Andy Foster is the best showman and most likely to be controlled when it comes to being soft-on-crime for drug testing and other offenses. His California track record speaks for itself. That may be alluring enough for Nevada politicos to take a chance on him in hopes that Marc Ratner can mold him. Ratner couldn’t control Keith Kizer enough, though.

Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 3 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

3 Responses to “Bizarre interview process for Nevada athletic commission will lead to Friday decision”

  1. Andy Foster sucks. Go anywhere but California. You ruined everything here.

  2. rst says:

    You kinda disappeared for a sec there Boss.
    Honestly I didn’t care for it.

  3. […] Foster ended up as one of the finalists for the Nevada job. He didn’t get it. The interview, which was done publicly, didn’t go so well. For the purposes of UFC, having Andy Foster remain in California allowed […]

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