Who is new Arizona Athletic Director Desireé Reed-Francois and what makes her a great hire?

Desireé Reed-Francois was hired as the University of Arizona's 11th Director of Athletics following a three-year stint at the University of Missouri. The Arizona law grad brings seven years of AD experience and over 20 years of athletic admin experience.

UNLV Announce Firing Of Men's Basketball Coach Marvin Menzies
UNLV Announce Firing Of Men's Basketball Coach Marvin Menzies / David Becker/GettyImages
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What can Arizona expect?

Desiree Reed-Francois
UNLV Introduces T.J. Otzelberger / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

It's assumed that university president Dr. Robert Robbins chose to make previous AD Dave Heeke the scapegoat for Arizona's financial woes, but his seat isn't getting any less hot; the Arizona Board of Regents and Governor Katie Hobbs are breathing down Robbins' neck and calls for an external audit are getting louder. Furthermore, disgraced former CFO Lisa Rulney is still employed by the University as a senior advisor to business operations and collecting her exorbitantly large salary despite Robbins announcing her resignation.

Reed-Francois brings a stacked resume to the Old Pueblo, with no facet being more important than her savviness when it comes to budgeting and fundraising. The hole that Arizona finds itself in — which is closer to $140 million than the $240 million initially reported — has been largely attributed to both financial aid for the student body and the athletic department. She will be facing the steepest uphill battle of her professional career so far.

That said, this is an area she flourishes in. At each of her last two stops, she secured the single largest donation in school history ($8 million at UNLV, $62 million at Mizzou). She was able to balance Mizzou's much more complicated SEC financials and get them into the green for the first time in six years. She was able to secure over $41 million for the scholarship fund in 2022, the most in any single year without a campaign; this equates to full out-of-state tuition coverage for 1,282 Mizzou athletes.

The goal of this hire was clear: find someone who can balance a big checkbook. Despite all of his missteps when it came to the handling of Arizona Athletics, Robbins may have made the hire that saves him from having his seat in the big chair overthrown. Welcome back home to Tucson, Desireé Reed-Francois.

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