David Wedley, who is both a UNLV employee and an alum ('11 MS Sport and Leisure Services Management) once dreamed of a management job in Major League Baseball, but now has found his niche helping UNLV's football and softball players successfully negotiate UNLV and NCAA requirements on their paths to graduation.
UNLV took a chance on me in 2009 by offering me a graduate assistant position, and then later by hiring me as a full-time employee. Many people at UNLV have been gracious to me, and I am doing my best to give back to the university and those who have believed in me. Both UNLV and Las Vegas have become my home.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Lansing, Michigan, the capital city, before I ventured to Grand Valley State University, which is just outside Grand Rapids, for my undergraduate degree.
What is your title and what do you do?
My title is director of student-athlete academic services and I serve as the athletic academic advisor for football and softball. My main duties include initial and continuing eligibility for my respective teams — making sure all prospective and current student-athletes meet the necessary NCAA regulations, providing academic support to current and former student-athletes, and ultimately helping student-athletes graduate from UNLV.
What inspired you to get into your field?
I knew I wanted to work within college athletics because it is an exciting environment with a lot of energy. Specifically, I wanted to work with student-athletes on a day-to-day basis, watching them learn, grow, and become responsible adults. It is very gratifying to watch students walk across the stage after working with them for four to five years.
What’s the biggest challenge in your field?
One of the biggest challenges is keeping up with the ever-changing rules and regulations set forth by the NCAA. There are always rule changes, amendments, alterations, etc., so it is important we educate not only staff members in the athletic department, but also our student-athletes to make sure they are doing what is required of them academically, athletically, and socially.
Proudest moment in your life?
The proudest moment of my life was marrying my wife. Work and personal accomplishments come and go over the years, so it is difficult to nab one as THE proudest moment. However, fooling and tricking my wife into marrying me in front of family and friends has to be the proudest one.
One tip for success?
Regardless of your job or career, you're always in the people-business. It goes a long way to say “hi,” “good morning,” “please,” and “thank you”. You can go a long way just by being a good person.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I was the undergraduate student baseball coach at Grand Valley State University (Division II) for four years, back when I thought I was going to eventually work in the front office for the Atlanta Braves or Detroit Tigers. I was privileged to travel the country every spring, and we made it to the Division II World Series in 2009.
Tell us about an object in your office that has significance for you.
That would be a folder (now bursting at the seam) that contains pictures, knick-knacks, thank-you notes, commencement invitations, words of encouragement, etc., that I have received from my students over the years. It is a constant reminder of why I love my job.
Who was your favorite professor or teacher and why?
My favorite professor is Bo Bernhard (executive director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute). I was fortunate to take HOA 735 - Research Methods for the spring 2010 semester and Dr. Bernhard encouraged me to think critically and he cultivated my interest in learning. It is rare if a day goes by and I am not reminded about something I took away from his course.
Who is your hero?
Without question, my heroes are my parents and sister. Those three have given me every opportunity in life and have sacrificed more than I can imagine helping me get where I am today. All life lessons, morals, and values have been instilled in me by those three and I am forever grateful to have them in my life.
Pastime or hobbies?
My favorite pastime is America's pastime — the sport of baseball. I am a fan of the Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves, but can watch whatever game is on TV. I also spend a lot of time listening to music, and I have a pretty solid vinyl collection ranging from Mayer Hawthorne and Steely Dan, to Dr. Dre and Lupe Fiasco.