Now would be a good time for Arizona State to hire an athletic director

Mar 14, 2024, 12:32 PM | Updated: 1:27 pm

Michael Crow, Arizona State University president...

Arizona State University president Michael Crow in the Arizona Sports studio on Feb. 13, 2020. (Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

(Matt Layman/Arizona Sports)

Arizona State diehards spent Wednesday morning wondering about the intricacies of Bobby Hurley’s contractual situation. They then spent the late hours of the night fuming about the product his men’s basketball team put on the floor in a 33-point Pac-12 Tournament loss to Utah.

The latter made the former seem pretty dang insignificant.

The rightful angry energy should have been on this: If you think that game marked the end of Hurley’s time in Tempe, who was going to, like, make that call? Who’s making the call not to fire him if you think he’s a good coach who could use an offensive coordinator, a refreshed home arena and a little more NIL money in his pockets?

Ray Anderson wasn’t there to have a quick chat with Hurley on the court, before he headed to a dejected locker room, leading to Sun Devil fans wondering if he’d fired him right then and there like it was with Herm Edwards against Eastern Michigan.

Do you think it would make sense for interim athletic director Jim Rund to meet Hurley at the bus? Deputy athletics director Jean Boyd, a significant voice in the athletic department for years, told’s Chris Karpman that he is out in May for family reasons. He’s not going out by ending other people’s jobs.

President Michael Crow in theory could make a big decision. But that would land outside his reputation for overlooking the athletic department.

That lands us here: Why doesn’t ASU have an athletic director exactly four months after Anderson stepped down as vice president for university athletics?

Arizona State isn’t using a trolling motor — not even a paddle — in a time it needs to move upstream into the fast-moving waters of a more competitive Big 12. It’s not just about the men’s basketball team, and whether or not Hurley signing a term sheet and not a finalized contract extension that was announced in March 2023 meant anything.

A source told Arizona Sports, for what it’s worth, that Hurley expects to sign the deal once language is adjusted to fit the Big 12 over the Pac-12, among other minor fixes. And Hurley for the past few weeks — and the Wednesday postgame in an honest media gathering in Las Vegas — has spoken like he’s going to keep fighting to improve his program.

Regardless of your Hurley opinions, Wednesday night sure amplified how debilitating it looks for a school to go this long without an athletic director.

Blame Hurley’s offensive tactics or Anderson’s lack of focus on NIL all you want, but the longer this goes, the longer Arizona State will tank Hurley — and more promising coaches like Kenny Dillingham’s momentum.

How does Crow expect football recruiting to pick up if the Sun Devils put together another disappointing season without tangible signs of improvement?

The Sun Devils very well could be cleaning up the functions of the athletics department to make the job more appealing, as Crow told The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner in an email. But it’s hard to make the argument that there is not one candidate who is like Dillingham, who would bring a love for Tempe and legit background in college athletics and fundraising.

By the way, Dillingham’s and Hurley’s backgrounds are not in fundraising. And as much as that is a new part of the job description that had Nick Saban running into retirement, you can imagine that the emphasis on fundraising over coaching and recruiting is eating up their time considering they don’t have an AD in place.

Why is Arizona State making, according to Crow’s email to Wilner, “design changes and updating our models for operations and systems before we make a decision on a new AD?”

Would you want that new AD in place so you’re sure that is what should be done? Why waste time to improve things that a new hire might say isn’t important?

There’s little excuse, and it looks worse when the rival Arizona Wildcats can quickly hire an experienced athletic director away from an SEC school despite having an even more embattled president with arguably more concerning financial problems.

We went over a list of AD candidates for both schools a few months ago: There are sound resumes with Arizona State ties in that group and more outside of it.

Fans could maybe grasp to the hope that hardcore Sun Devil Rocky Harris leaves a leadership position as United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee chief of sport and athlete services. That would draw this out longer, as Harris probably doesn’t want to leave his country’s Olympic squads in a bad spot.

At this point, that would at least be a settling move.

But for now, it’s nervous times for Sun Devil fans, who are wondering if anyone in positions of action care as much as they do.

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Now would be a good time for Arizona State to hire an athletic director