LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — UNLV President Keith Whitfield agreed to his first on-camera interview with the I-Team after a fraternity boxing match resulted in one student’s death.
When asked who he believes should be held accountable, President Whitfield said, “Well it’s premature to say who we want to start pointing fingers on about accountability. We’re gonna do a very, very thorough process and we’re going to make sure that we identify all the parts and pieces of how this played out.”
Nathan Valencia, 20, participated in the fraternity boxing match for charity on November 19. He collapsed after his fight and died four days later from head injuries. The Clark County Coroner ruled Valencia’s death a homicide due to blunt force injuries to the head. However, Metro Police said there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing and no charges will be filed.
President Whitfield says he talked with Nathan Valencia’s father to express condolences.
“This student was a part of our family and we’re actually, you know, it’s a little emotional for me to be thinking and talking about it,” Whitfield tells the I-Team.
The I-Team uncovered a video of the event showing the referee drinking what appears to be alcohol at the event and frequently looking at the judges’ table. Valencia’s parents said they believe the referee was not a licensed professional.
While weigh-in for the boxers was held on campus before the event, the match was held off-campus at the Sahara Event Center. Witnesses told the I-Team that there were no paramedics or professional medical help on standby at the event.
When asked if the event should have been held in the first place or ever again President Whitfield told the I-Team that would be a decision made a later time.
“Ya know, we’re gonna make that decision after we’ve gone through all of this because one of the things that we actually do is to support and promote students having activities and doing things,” he said.
The I-Team also spoke with Chancellor Melody Rose, who heads Nevada’s System of Higher Education and says responsibility falls on UNLV rather than her office.
“The president’s office oversees student affairs, student activities, student athletics and we do have a role in policymaking and I think when we do have a role beyond this conversation and results of an investigation come through, I think at that point you could see a policy conversation at the board of regents,” Rose tells the I-Team.
The event was held by the Kappa Sigma fraternity, according to social media posts. On Wednesday, the university announced that the fraternity was suspended.