Winning a thrilling final game at Sam Boyd Stadium last Saturday was not enough to save Tony Sanchez's job as UNLV's head football coach.
The school announced Monday it had fired Sanchez, who was 19-40 in five seasons after coming over from across the city at Bishop Gorman High School where he had led the Gaels to six consecutive Nevada state championships.
“We appreciate everything that Tony has done for our university and football program,” UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois said in a statement. “He made us better. Because of his work and his vision, we have the best facilities in the Mountain West and rival some of the best in the country.
"What he has done for the football community in Las Vegas during his five years at UNLV and his six years at Bishop Gorman High School has been remarkable. Further, our football team has made great progress academically under Tony’s leadership. We wish him and his family all the best in the future.”
The school announced the search for Sanchez's successor will begin immediately
Sanchez, whose team is 3-8 overall and 1-6 in the Mountain West, will coach the Rebels Saturday in the season finale against in-state rival Nevada. Sanchez became just the third UNLV football head coach to win the Fremont Cannon by defeating the Wolf Pack in his debut campaign. Last year, the Rebels ended the season with the biggest comeback in school history, defeating Nevada 34-29 after being down 23-0, making him only the second UNLV head coach since 1981 to defeat the Wolf Pack more than once.
“I’m grateful for my time here and proud of the strides we made as a football program, on and off the field,” Sanchez said in a statement released by UNLV. “I’m proud of our student-athletes and our staff and how we have positioned the program for future success.
"I look forward to finishing the season strong with these young men. I would also like to thank our community, our alumni and our donors for their generous support in making the Fertitta Football Complex a reality.”
Sanchez’s most successful impact on UNLV has been felt off the field. His fundraising efforts led to the construction of the state-of-the-art $34 million Fertitta Complex, which opened on campus earlier this fall.
In addition, the Rebels have achieved record success in the classroom, including last year posting the highest semester and cumulative grade point averages in program history along with earning the most academic all-conference honorees and Dean’s List members the football team has ever seen.
But on the field, Sanchez was never able to get the Rebels to be consistent winners. And with the team moving to Allegiant Stadium for its home games next fall, UNLV will have a new person, its fourth in 15 years, as its head coach.