If you have attended a UNLV sporting event at any point in your life, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the dulcet tones of Dick Calvert. As the iconic “Voice of the Rebels” for more than a half-century — yes, half-century — Calvert’s unmistakable pipes have echoed from public address systems at every UNLV athletic facility, be it new or old, on or off campus.
So you can imagine the quizzical looks on the faces of Rebels fans who attended the football team’s home opener on Aug. 27 at Allegiant Stadium, where a not-so-familiar voice described the action to them.
Wait — that’s not Dick. Where’s Dick?
Turns out, he was still perched in his home away home, the press box — just not in his usual broadcast booth. Instead, Calvert and his beloved wife, Anne, watched UNLV pummel Idaho State 52-21 from their guest seats as fans.
“In the previous 52 seasons, I had never just sat and watched a UNLV game with my wife. I’ve always been working,” Calvert says. “It was different, but we enjoyed it.”
Less than two weeks earlier, the only person to work for every athletics director the school has employed — announced he was dropping the mic after calling roughly 5,000 UNLV events spanning the sports spectrum.
“I honestly thought I was going to do this [announce UNLV games] for the rest of my life,” says Calvert, who is 86. “I thought I would be 100-something years old, still putting my mic and headset in my backpack and heading to the stadium, arena or field and do what I do. It’s what I’ve always done, and I didn’t think it would ever end.”
That mindset began to change after Calvert spent the final month of 2020 in the hospital recovering from COVID-19. He attacked his rehab with the determination and vigor of a 21-year-old athlete trying to get back on the field after a knee injury, and the hard work paid off. He was back behind the mic for the end of the 2021 UNLV baseball season, then did his annual stint announcing NBA Summer League games at the Thomas & Mack Center.
However, after working the entire 2021 UNLV football and 2021-22 men’s basketball seasons — and yet another NBA Summer League — Calvert came to the realization that it was time to step aside.
“My bout with COVID took a lot out of me. I wasn’t the same,” says Calvert, who has been enshrined in both the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame (2010) and the UNLV Athletics Hall of Fame (2017). “And Anne was right in her assessment [of my work]. I was slower and wasn’t as crisp.
“It was hard for me to say, ‘It’s time.’ At first, I thought I could just cut back. But this isn’t something where you can do part of it and have some else do part of it — that’s just not the right way to do it.”
So after several meetings with his direct boss, UNLV senior associate athletics director Andy Grossman, and athletics director Erick Harper, Calvert made the call to relinquish his game-day announcing duties. However, he’s quick to point out, “I’m not retired!” Indeed, Calvert remains a part of the athletics department, and Rebels fans still will get a chance to hear his distinct voice in radio and TV advertisements and various special projects.
Those fans also will get multiple opportunities to thank the “Voice of the Rebels,” as the athletics department is planning a series of tributes to Calvert that will span the 2022-23 athletic seasons.
“Dick Calvert is a bona fide legend in college athletics, as his unforgettable voice has become synonymous not only with UNLV but also with the city of Las Vegas as we grew into becoming the Sports and Entertainment Capital of the World,” Harper says. “We appreciate every inning, quarter, round, and half that he has called over the last half-century and look forward to celebrating his amazing career.”
Never one to seek the spotlight, Calvert — a former Minor League Baseball player who arrived in Las Vegas in 1970 after serving as a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1960s — insists the pleasure has been all his.
“I mean this sincerely: UNLV has done a helluva lot more for me and my family in over a half-century than I have ever done for them,” he says. “I honestly have enjoyed every second of it.
“And rest assured, I’ll remain as big a Rebels fan as you’ll ever find. As they say: Once a Rebel, always a Rebel — and I am always a Rebel.”
The Rebels' New Voice: Marques Pfaff
How do you replace a legend? You can’t, so don’t bother trying. Instead, just be the best version of yourself and hope that’s enough to win over the crowd.
That’s precisely the approach Marques Pfaff is taking as he settles into his role as the new public address announcer for UNLV football and, starting this month, men’s basketball. Pfaff replaces Dick Calvert, the iconic “Voice of the Rebels” who announced this summer that he was stepping aside after 52 years behind the mic.
“There’s no way I’m ever going to be Dick Calvert,” says Pfaff, who earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Wisconsin in 2006 and his master’s in sport and leisure services management from UNLV in 2011. “But I’ve been lucky to have had the chance to work alongside Dick for many years and learn the habits he developed. So what I do certainly will incorporate elements of what he did. But you’re never going to replace a guy like Dick. You just hope to come in and do as good a job as possible.”
Pfaff is in his second stint with the UNLV athletics department, having worked in marketing and advertising from 2010-14. During that time, he also did play-by-play broadcasts for UNLV’s baseball team.
Although he returned to his home state to co-host a sports talk radio show in Green Bay, Pfaff frequently came back to Las Vegas to handle PA duties for various college basketball conference tournaments. Additionally, he’s been part of Calvert’s announcing team for NBA Summer League games since 2012, and he spent the 2021 UNLV football season serving as Calvert’s “spotter” in the booth for home games at Allegiant Stadium.
“While I don’t like thinking about UNLV without Dick in the [PA] chair, I’m excited to have the opportunity to slide into the seat that he’s occupied for so many years,” says Pfaff, who moved back to Las Vegas with his wife in March 2020. “I’m finding my voice, and so far it’s going well.”
He definitely has his predecessor’s seal of approval.
“Marques was an outstanding selection,” Calvert says. “He’s worked in that booth, he knows the operation, and he has his own unique style. Rebel fans have a really good announcer, so nothing changes. Just win ballgames!”