July 16, 2024
Arizona to rent AD Desireé Reed-Francois amid funds woes

The College of Arizona has employed Missouri athletic director Desireé Reed-Francois as the college’s subsequent AD.

Reed-Francois has agreed to a five-year deal. The hiring, introduced Monday, provides Arizona’s athletic division, which is replete with monetary struggles, a veteran chief who has spent almost three years main Missouri.

The bounce from the SEC to Arizona, which is coming into the Massive 12 within the 2024-25 educational yr, is an surprising one throughout the faculty sport trade. Sources instructed ESPN that Reed-Francois’ ties to Arizona, which embrace graduating from legislation faculty there in 1997, helped result in the choice.

The transfer additionally comes simply weeks after Missouri’s board of curators voted to create the Mizzou Intercollegiate Athletics Particular Committee, a four-member panel to observe Missouri sports activities.

Hiring a sitting SEC athletic director is a robust assertion for Arizona president Bobby Robbins, who’s coping with vital monetary points on the faculty. There was skepticism of the caliber of athletic director he may land when he launched the search, as the college has been shrouded in unfavorable monetary headlines.

Reed-Francois has greater than seven years of athletic director expertise from her time at UNLV and Missouri and an extended historical past in management at locations resembling Virginia Tech, Cincinnati and Tennessee.

“Whereas this will come as a shock to some, those that know Desireé greatest know that she relishes challenges and is a builder and isn’t intimidated,” a supply acquainted with the choice stated.

She’ll turn into the primary feminine athletic director to carry the full-time place at Arizona. When Reed-Francois was employed at UNLV in 2017, she turned the primary Hispanic lady to be an athletic director on the FBS degree.

A part of the attraction to the job to Reed-Francois, per sources, was the chance to construct Arizona again to stronger monetary floor. The college immediately fired athletic director Dave Heeke late final month, almost every week after he had employed new soccer coach Brent Brennan.

This rent comes at a time of fiscal uncertainty for each Arizona and Arizona athletics, as the college is going through a reported deficit of $177 million. The athletics division can be struggling financially, as Robbins has stated it has borrowed greater than $80 million from the college lately.

Reed-Francois is the second athletic director to go away Missouri for a Massive 12 job prior to now decade, as former AD Mack Rhoades departed for Baylor in 2016. Reed-Francois’ determination comes at a time when the monetary gaps between conferences are far more pronounced, with the SEC and Massive Ten pulling away from the opposite leagues.

Reed-Francois reportedly earned $1.25 million yearly at Missouri, which didn’t embrace bonuses and deferred compensation. With bonuses and deferred compensation, she earned greater than $1.5 million. At Arizona, she’s slated to start out at $1.25 million in her first yr, which incorporates an annual $250,000 payout from the Arizona Basis.

The preliminary base of $1 million at Arizona rises to $1.2 million within the closing yr, which can put her at $1.45 million in that final yr of the contract.

Reed-Francois helped reverse a unfavorable funds pattern throughout her time at Missouri. Missouri athletics reported a $15 million surplus in fiscal 2022. That ended a run of 5 years working at a deficit. Her capability to deal with funds and fundraise have been a part of the attraction to Arizona officers, as Missouri noticed will increase in attendance and the athletic division acquired a file $62 million present earlier this month.

Arizona additionally observed Missouri’s revolutionary work within the NIL house throughout her time there. Missouri was on the forefront of native NIL laws, as Gov. Mike Parson signed Home Invoice 417 in July, which supplies the college a big in-state recruiting benefit by permitting recruits to start incomes NIL cash whereas in highschool once they signal with in-state colleges.

Reed-Francois leaves Missouri with the soccer program coming off one in all its strongest seasons in current historical past, because the Tigers accomplished this system’s first 11-win marketing campaign since 2014. She employed males’s basketball coach Dennis Gates, who led this system to its first NCAA event win in 13 years in 2023. The Tigers have reversed course this season, nevertheless, having gone 8-17 general and 0-12 within the SEC.

At UNLV, Reed-Francois employed T.J. Otzelberger, who has gone on to thrive at Iowa State. His substitute, Kevin Kruger, has gone 51-37.

At Arizona, Reed-Francois inherits Brennan simply weeks after he took over the soccer program. He arrives from San Jose State to a season of robust expectations. Third-year basketball coach Tommy Lloyd is 81-16 and in line for an additional excessive seed within the NCAA event, as his 81 wins are essentially the most within the first three seasons by a faculty in a significant convention.

Arizona soccer is poised to be among the many favorites within the Massive 12 in 2024, as receiver Tetairoa McMillan is among the many greatest at his place within the nation and quarterback Noah Fifita gained the Pac-12’s offensive freshman of the yr award in 2023.

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