ACC commissioner job spoke to ASU’s Ray Anderson more than Pac-12’s
Arizona State vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson made sure to squash any link between the Pac-12 commissioner job opening and his name.
Once the conference announced in January that it would part ways with current commissioner Larry Scott this June, Anderson was one of the replacement candidates whose name was floated in media circles.
But the job isn’t for him. Remaining a Sun Devil is.
The Arizona Board of Regents this month approved a five-year extension for Anderson to stay at ASU through February 2026.
“I’m really happy to partner with (president Michael Crow) and all the folks at ASU again,” Anderson told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Friday. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us that’s exciting. We think we’ve accomplished some things in our seven years here, but not nearly the goals and the missions that we have set out.
“It’s nice to know I will be able to stay the course and keep working away at it.”
Anderson did reveal what he was, at one point, looking for if an opportunity to leave Arizona State presented itself.
He went into detail about interviewing for the open ACC commissioner job that was filled by former Northwestern AD Jim Phillips in December. Phillips replaced John Swofford, who had led the ACC since 1997.
“There are certain times in one’s career and life — and I hope everyone gets a chance to essentially experience or face this — where a really unique opportunity presents itself,” Anderson said of what interested him in the ACC job. “Very frankly, the ACC is 15 schools — nine public, six private — the most diverse mix of public and private. They’re in a very unique footprint in our country from the Deep South all the way up to Syracuse, New York.
“The fact is that there are things in those communities, culturally and systemically, whereby if someone like myself goes in and is able to make a difference in trying to change some of the culture and some of the social justice issues, and some of the things that those … particularly student-athletes of color have had to endure and then carry those football and basketball programs on their shoulders for years — if there’s an opportunity to go into that mix and be given the authority to try to make positive change all the way up and down a footprint of culture where some of the most discriminating, bigoted activities in our country has occurred, could you potentially go in there in a college environment and maybe have an impact positively? That was the situation that was presented to me.”
Anderson said he kept Crow in the loop throughout the interview process before the ACC passed over him, choosing Phillips for the job.
The ASU vice president for university athletics added that, had he been offered the post, he would have needed to take a day or two to talk his decision over with his wife and Crow.
But when the Pac-12 job opening became public this year, Anderson said he didn’t spend much time thinking about the opportunity.
The opening did not come with the potential for Anderson to exact dramatic progress from the broader lens of cultural change. So he went on record to explain that his commitment remained with the Sun Devils.
“I knew very quickly that I had no interest in the Pac-12 commissioner job,” Anderson said. “It’s not the same. It’s a different footprint. All commissioner jobs are not created equal. This one wasn’t nearly as motivating or inspiring to me as the ACC commissioner position would have been, as an example. With my commitment to Dr. Crow in staying here at ASU, I wanted to dispel any notion, any distraction that I wasn’t committed here.”