In the wake of the tragic death of UNLV student Nathan Valencia at a fraternity’s charity boxing event, the Nevada Athletic Commission has unanimously passed what it’s calling “Nathan’s Law.”
Valencia, 20, died after the Nov. 19 boxing event sponsored by UNLV’s Kappa Sigma chapter. Valencia took part in a fight at Sahara Event Center and collapsed after suffering injuries. He died four days later on Nov. 23.
NAC chairman Stephen Cloobeck said during Monday’s monthly meeting that Nevada law did not allow the commission to regulate the event because it was organized by a university organization.
“As a result, the fraternity event took place without any oversight by the Nevada State Athletic Commission,” Cloobeck said. “As to whether any other entity had oversight, that remains to be determined throughout our investigation, which is ongoing.”
In response to Valencia’s death, the NAC passed a set of emergency regulations – “Nathan’s Law” – for amateur boxing events the NAC previously could not oversee. Violators of “Nathan’s Law,” which still needs Gov. Steve Sisolak’s signature, could face criminal prosecution, said Cloobeck, who did not discuss details of the new regulations.
Cloobeck made it clear that he hopes the NAC’s decision sets a trend for combat sports commissions around the country.
“This needs to change in every state,” Cloobeck said. “We’re the leader, we set the standard, and hopefully everyone else will follow.”
In a statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Valencia’s family attorneys praised the NAC’s new regulations.
“We strongly encourage the Nevada Legislature to pass similar legislation to permanently close the loophole exempting universities from the Athletic Commission’s oversight,” the statement said. “Simply because the Athletic Commission did not have regulatory authority over Kappa Sigma Fight Night does not mean that UNLV, the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, or the Sahara Event Center are absolved from responsibility to host a safe event. We will hold those responsible for Nathan’s death accountable for their complete lack of care in the management and organization of this event.”
Although Cloobeck said during the meeting that a criminal investigation is ongoing, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department later told the Review-Journal that is not the case.
Valencia was a registered organ donor and given an “honor walk” attended by family, friends and hospital staff. It was captured on video, which Cloobeck shared with the commission before Monday’s vote took place.
“This is a tragic video but beautiful, and it rocked me to my core – and I’ve seen a lot in my career,” Cloobeck said. “The governor has seen this, and it has rocked him. It has rocked our community.”