David Wedley titles at UNLV are extensive: director of student-athlete academic services, academic eligibility specialist for football, and master's degree graduate (’11 MS Sport & Leisure Services).
The Michigan native traded in the humidity and snow for the desert air when he came here for his master's degree. As an advisor, he has worked with seven other Rebel sports. Under his direction, Rebel football has achieved impressive highs for both single-semester and cumulative grade point average, academic all-conference honorees, conference scholar-athletes and even producing the school’s first two football academic all-Americans over the last two seasons.
What inspired you to get into your field?
Honestly, I desperately needed a job after graduating from UNLV with my master's degree and the advising office was in a pinch for a new hire. I had no idea what I was doing but thought I could at least be a body for the advising staff. However, I came to realize that this field was a passion of mine due to the ability to help mentor and advocate for student-athletes.
Tell me about an a-ha moment in your career.
At the end of my first academic year of advising, a group of freshmen I had worked closely with came to my office before they left for summer break. We all had gone through a lot of change in that year, with me trying to figure out what I was actually doing, and them going through normal freshman struggles. They gave me a card which had notes inside thanking me for everything during their first year. This gave me comfort in knowing I didn't totally screw them up and that even though I wasn't an expert in my job, that just being someone they could talk to and rely on meant a lot to them.
Is this what you thought you’d do when you grew up?
No, I wanted to work in Major League Baseball. Realizing I wasn't going to get much bigger than 5'9" and 160 pounds, I knew it wouldn’t be as a player and I transitioned to wanting to become a general manager.
What’s the biggest misconception you encounter about UNLV when you leave the state?
I had no idea what to think of UNLV and Las Vegas before moving out here, but only heard the stereotypical things like "partying," "gambling," "Sin City," etc., so I was a bit nervous. But it’s just like any other metropolitan city with diversity, unique experiences and great people. It doesn't take long to realize that UNLV is a great institution led by incredible individuals, which provides a family feel that makes it difficult to leave.
Is there someone on campus you would like to thank for helping your career?
The most important figure on UNLV's campus that helped get me to where I am today is David Jackson, former director of Student-Athlete Academic Services and now the associate director in the Division of Health Sciences Advising Center. DJ was supportive of hiring me originally, and I envied his expertise, professionalism, demeanor, and ability to find a solution to all of the problems sent his way.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don't be in a rush to grow up. I try to convey this message to the students I work with. During my undergraduate and graduate programs, I was so focused on becoming an adult and getting to that next step that I didn't take the opportunity to enjoy some of the smaller things in life and I missed out on some experiences that I regret. It is OK to not have every little thing figured out. It’s OK to wander a bit.
Tell us about an object in your office and what it represents to you.
My most prized possession in my office is the framed jersey of former UNLV football student-athlete Kenny Keys. He had the most infectious personality and despite his hardships (and despite the level of stress he provided to me), I could never be mad at him and he always brought a smile to my face. Unfortunately, Kenny passed away on July 26, 2018, which is a day I will never forget. Fortunately, his framed jersey is a daily reminder of the person that Kenny was, and the continued legacy he will have here at UNLV.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
With my preference of music; I think I have an old soul. I am a sucker for music from the ‘60s and ‘70s and ‘80s ranging from funk, soul, R&B, reggae — with a little Yacht Rock thrown in.
Michigan winters or Las Vegas summers?
I will take the Las Vegas summer heat 100% of the time! The intention of moving to Las Vegas was to finish my two years of education and move back to Michigan where all my family and friends reside. But I got used to not shoveling snow in the driveway, scraping the ice off my windshield, and not pre-heating my car in the mornings. I will take the heat all day over the cold.
What’s your best tip for staying cool in the summer?
Find your inner child at one of the water parks in town. You're never too old for a water slide.
You’ve visited a lot of campuses while traveling with the football team. Which one is your favorite?
My favorite campus outside of UNLV is Colorado State, but really that it is because of the city of Fort Collins. It provides a small town feel with great restaurants and shopping, with a trendy and hip feel, which makes it a great place to visit (but not live – SNOW!). My favorite road trip was to Fort Collins when my wife, Stephanie, was able to go and we experienced it together along with showing her the ins and outs of traveling with a 150-person group to play a college football game.
How much UNLV gear do you own?
Too much to count. It’s no surprise that even on the weekends, I can usually be found wearing a UNLV polo. Even though I give a lot of hand-me-downs to family and friends, I haven't had to shop for clothes in almost 11 years.
UNLV Football kicks off the 2022 season against Idaho State on Aug. 27 at Allegiant Stadium.