Michael Crow: Arizona State upgrading operations before making athletic director hire

Mar 5, 2024, 11:28 AM

Arizona State president Michael Crow...

Arizona State University president Michael Crow (Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

Arizona State University is updating its athletic department operations before moving into the hiring stage for its vacant athletic director job that’s been open for nearly four months, ASU president Michael Crow told The Mercury News‘ Jon Wilner in an email.

“We are making some design changes and updating our models for operations and systems before we make a decision on a new AD, so it is for us a careful and deliberate process,” Crow wrote.

“ASU is in a great community, a great institution, it is a complex and exciting job, and we will find a great AD.”

Crow sent Wilner the unsolicited email after Wilner in January compared and contrasted the Arizona State opening at athletic director to the one for the rival Arizona Wildcats. Wilner framed University of Arizona president Dr. Robert Robbins as “highly engaged” with the operations of the athletic department, while he said Crow was often “disengaged” from that arm of the school.

The Wildcats fired AD Dave Heeke on Jan. 23 amid a financial crisis that goes beyond the athletic department. The school took less than a month to hire Desiree Reed-Francois as the replacement, making it official on Feb. 19.

Arizona State, on the other hand, has been slow to move on an AD that will be charged with upgrading or building a new arena for the basketball teams and taking on challenges by a still-ongoing NCAA investigation into the football program. The Sun Devils are also entering the Big 12 after this academic year.

Former vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson stepped down on Nov. 13. He was replaced on an interim basis by Jim Rund, the former senior vice president for educational outreach and student services.

Crow laid out the below outline to Wilner about his plans for the athletic department, which he expressed is an “integral part of the university, not an add on, or an addendum.”

— “Can you build and maintain college sports as college sports? Not professional sports at colleges.

— “Can student athletes be treated better, and like other students (NIL for instance) and still be student athletes?

— “Can student athletes have better life outcomes, regardless of their incoming family circumstance?”

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