After student’s death, UNLV, fraternities silent on responsibility for off-campus events

By: - December 2, 2021 4:25 pm

Kappa Sigma is “the largest college social fraternity in the world,” according to the organization’s website, which features the logo above.

University of Nevada Las Vegas officials are remaining silent about the school’s role and potential liability in off-campus student activities, such as the fraternity-produced charity boxing match on Nov. 19 at the Sahara Events Center that ended with the collapse and eventual death of a student fighting in the main event.

The Nevada Athletic Commission is investigating the death of Nathan Valencia, the 20-year old student who fought in the main event of the multi-bout card and succumbed four days later to blunt force head trauma, according to the Clark County Coroner. Valencia’s death, though ruled a homicide, will not result in charges according to Metro Police, given the absence of criminality.  

A man who answered the phone at the Sahara Events Centers and identified himself only as Dan, would not say if the facility is required to ensure credentialing of participants, referees or medical personnel for such events.    

“I’m not at liberty to answer any questions at this time,” he said.

A spokesman for UNLV was unable to immediately produce the school’s policy on student activities held off campus.   

Although the event was held off-campus, an “official weigh-in” took place Wed., Nov. 17 at the UNLV Student Union Ballroom, according to an Instagram post from the Kappa Sigma fraternity, which sponsored the annual ‘Fight Night’ event.   

UNLV’s Interfraternity Council, the “governing council for 11 men’s fraternities at UNLV,” according to the school’s website, did not respond to requests for comment, nor did fraternity officials contacted by the Current.

The university announced Wednesday it was suspending the Kappa Sigma fraternity pending the outcome of an investigation.  

“Our hearts ache for Mr. Valencia’s family, friends, and loved ones,” UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield said in a statement. “We take our responsibility to review this tragic incident and the events leading up to it very seriously, and we are doing so both thoroughly and fairly to ensure something like this never happens again.”

The suspension requires the fraternity to “cease all operations and activities, and its status as a registered student organization is revoked pending the outcome of an investigation by the university and its Office of Student Conduct.”

Athletic Commission chairman Stephen Cloobeck said Tuesday the state is investigating the death but has no jurisdiction over the fraternity boxing match.  Nevada law exempts unarmed combat between students from regulation by the Athletic Commission, which is charged with licensing other matches and participants, and ensuring the provision of medical personnel. 

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.