Executive Director of the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) Keith Kizer, submitted his resignation Friday, effective Jan 27.
The story was broken by Steve Carp, who covers boxing, basketball and golf writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“I told myself five years and it’s been almost eight," said Kizer, 47. "I had a good run. I’m a lawyer by trade. I never expected to be the executive director. I wasn’t planning on doing this until I was 100.”
A juris doctor graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law, Kizer practiced law for just under six years at Smith & Kotchka Ltd, before transitioning to the Office of the Nevata Attorney General as the Chief Deputy AG in the Gaming Division. In his capacity with the Attorney General's office he acted as chief legal counsel to the NSAC, starting in 2001. It was a natural transition to executive director of the body when Marc Ratner retired in 2006.
As the face of the most visible Athletic Commission in combat sports, Kizer was regularly at the forefront of international issues including Therapeutic Use Exemptions, drug testing, fighter suspension recioprocity, and judging and referee licensing. The day-to-day functions of his office include drug testing of combat participants, collecting ticket sales, holding fighter funds in escrow, sale or lease of radio & television right, and much more. Although he is familiar to millions from his countless appearances as a regulator on the long-running The Ultimate Fighter reality television series, when he see the biggest MMA and boxing events in the world on PPV, you are seeing Keith Kizer at work.
During Kizer’s tenure Nevada enjoyed the largest boxing gate in state history, and the largest MMA gate in state history. All told, Kizer regulated four of the ten largest gates in Nevada history, and nine of the ten largest MMA gates. Instant replay and out-of-competition drug testing are just two of the efforts that he pioneered in combat sports Regulation.
His office received criticism when NAC appointed judges C.J. Ross and Duane Ford awarded Timothy Bradley a split decision over Manny Pacquiao in 2012. In 2013, when Ross scored Mayweather vs. Alvarez a draw, Kizer again took heat.
However, NAC chairman Francisco Aguilar was crystal clear that the decision was Kizer's.
"Keith was not forced into this decision," said Aguilar. "But we do respect it and we will conduct a national search."
“The board is grateful to Keith for his nearly eight years of dedicated service, which included the commission’s strongest years with regard to health and safety and fiscal soundness. My fellow commissioners and I wish Keith all the best in his new role.”
Further, the decision was not recent. Kizer last year applied for the city attorney job in neighboring Henderson, Nevada.
In an interview with Mike Chiapetta, Kizer detailed the reasons he stepped down. Emphatically, he did not resign due to the sometimes combative words that UFC president Dana White directed at him on occasion.
“Dana and I have a good relationship," Kizer told FOX Sports on Friday night. "I know he says crazy stuff about everybody from time to time. Look at the stuff he said about Jon Jones. Actually, he and I have always had a good relationship behind the scenes. He has his own failings as do I, as does everybody. It was never to the point that it negatively impacted on us as a commission whatsoever. Most of the biggest UFC’s in history have been in Nevada.”
“This is just a good time for me to move on. It’s a new calendar year, there’s a new chairman, and we’re really slow. We have no fights this month, so it’s a good time for making a transition. Everything’s all set for the big fights in the spring, so if there’s a time to leave, this is the time.”
“I was lucky enough to work with some very good commissioners, commission staff and officials. I don’t have any negative feelings whatsoever. Even with the promoters, sometimes you have disagreements with them, but they’ve been very good, too, along with the fighters and managers I’ve dealt with. It was all good. I didn’t expect to be here eight years but I don’t regret sticking around longer than I planned.”
“It’s a cool job. I can’t imagine this type of job won’t attract some qualified candidates and probably some unqualified candidates as well. I’ve done my time as a sports guy, and now I get to go back to being a lawyer. They’ll be just fine without me.”
Aguilar said there will be a search for a temporary, interim director, and for a permanent replacement.
“We need someone temporary to keep the office moving so the promoters don’t feel a glitch,” said Aguilar.
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