Big 12 News

Arizona Names Missouri AD Desireé Reed-Francois as New Director of Athletics

Arizona football helmet

The Arizona Wildcats are making history in 2024, and it’s not just their move to the Big 12 Conference. The University of Arizona is expected to hire Desireé Reed-Francois as its next athletic director, making her the first woman in UA history to serve as the full-time AD in Tucson.

According to a release from the university, Reed-Francois has agreed to terms on a five-year contract with an annual base salary of $1 million in year one, elevating to $1.2 million in year five, with an additional $250,000 annual contribution from the University of Arizona Foundation.

She’ll have to earn every penny of that contract, too, as she’s stepping into quite a financial mess in Tuscon.

 

In November of 2023 it was reported that the University of Arizona had miscalculated its cash on hand by an astounding $240 million, which will lead to “draconian cuts” to the schools budget.

Luckily, Reed-Francois has now been appointed to be one of the biggest decision-makers when it comes to budgeting and fund-raising, and her recent success in that field is certainly promising.

Since taking over as the athletic director at Missouri in 2021, Reed-Francois hired six head coaches and saw the department’s first budget surplus in six years. She broke records in fundraising while with the Tigers, including securing the largest gift in Missouri Athletics history of $62 million.

That is music to the ears of every school official at Arizona, especially University President Robert Robbins.

 

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Desireé to the University of Arizona family, and we could not be more excited about the leadership experience and outstanding credentials she brings,” said Robbins in a statement. “Respected nationally for her commitment to student-athletes, Desireé has a history of success everywhere she’s served and is exactly the right person we need to modernize our athletics operations and usher in an ongoing culture of success in all aspects of Athletics. This is a tremendous win for our university and I cannot wait for her to get started.”

As for Reed-Francois, many folks wondered what lured her away from a rising program in the SEC, which she addressed in her first statement as an official part of Wildcat athletics.

“There are very few institutions that would entice me to leave an SEC athletics department with strong momentum,” said Reed-Francois. “The University of Arizona has tremendous potential and is an institution — and an athletics program — on the rise, and I want to be a part of shaping that future. We will provide a world-class student-athlete experience, which includes competing for championships and being among the nation’s elite. I am grateful to President Robbins and the Arizona Board of Regents for this incredible opportunity.”

Reed-Francois will officially begin her tenure at Arizona on March 3, just a few months before the school leaves the Pac-12 for the Big 12.

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