Ray Anderson explains Arizona State resignation, without regret in hiring Herm Edwards

Nov 15, 2023, 12:45 PM

Ray Anderson, Arizona State...

Arizona State University athletic director Ray Anderson joins The Doug & Wolf Show for an interview on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Feb. 14, 2019. (Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

(Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

Resigned Arizona State vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson said on the final episode of his podcast that the potentially decade-long runway for the Sun Devils to adjust to the changing college landscape led him to step down this week.

“It would not have been smart, fair or in the best interests of the university to hold on for another two years knowing that I’m 69 years old,” Anderson told co-host Tim Healey on his final Anderson & Healey Show published Wednesday.

Anderson cited changes in name, image and likeness rules in college athletics, the Sun Devils’ move to the Big 12 and more in the hour-long podcast.

He said that he will continue teaching at ASU and remain an advisor for the sports law and business program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

Anderson said that the NCAA’s investigation into the football program’s recruiting practices, which is approaching three years old, did not factor into his decision to leave his post.

“It wasn’t a factor whatsoever. It wasn’t considered at all,” Anderson said. “What I can tell you is that I am very grateful and proud of the way the way the university from the beginning has handled this process.  … As a result of how that is handled, what I can tell you personally is that I have great confidence that when this case finally concludes — and very frankly I think that will be in short order — Arizona State football is going to be looking at very clear and very blue skies going forward. I’m very happy in my feeling about that.”

Anderson’s resignation to end his tenure that began in 2014 came after the Sun Devils announced a self-imposed bowl ban on the football program before the season began.

He said he feels he left the athletic department in a better place than he found it, admitting it has “frustrated” him that people don’t appreciate the facilities advancements and Olympic sport success ASU has built during his tenure.

Anderson oversaw the build-up of the hockey program and its arena that currently also houses the Arizona Coyotes, the improvements of ASU’s home golf course at Papago, the hiring of renowed swimming head coach Bob Bowman and more among his achievement to be proud of as he leaves the athletic department.

“Sometimes it’s like they discount all of that,” he said. “How can you discount a Bob Bowman or (wrestling coach) Zeke Jones or a seven-time (champion) triathlon performance … what we’re doing now in volleyball, what we just did in soccer for two years in a row, what we’ve done in tennis, golf and go on and on?”

“I’m hoping it will open up people’s minds to view this program on a wholistic basis and not just through the eyes of a season-by-season-by-season (basis) in football or men’s basketball … that’s unfair to our student-athletes, unfair to our community.”

But Anderson’s biggest hire of Herm Edwards to lead the football team in 2018 contributed greatly to the athletic department leader’s resume and reputation.

Edwards went 26-20 from 2018-22 before he was let go in the front-half of last season and ultimately replaced by Kenny Dillingham. The former coach was controversial as he joined the Sun Devils without college coaching experience.

He left after surviving the firings of top assistants like Antonio Pierce, who reportedly had led the rule-breaking amid COVID-19 pandemic dead recruiting periods.

“I don’t regret bringing Herm here,” Anderson said. “I do regret the outcome of the program because at the end of the day, we did not choose the right assistant coaches with the right frame of mind to be absolutely compliant and understand that no matter the difficulty of the circumstances, you had to play by the rules. I regret the poor decision of choosing coaches.

“And then I certainly regret that we were in the COVID period where covert things were more capable of happening — and they did happen. I regret that and I regret the impact it’s had on this program and in large part I regret that it’s taken so long to be resolved and in the meantime the recruiting punches we took from our competitors … did great damage.”

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Ray Anderson explains Arizona State resignation, without regret in hiring Herm Edwards