University of Arizona president Dr. Robert Robbins to step down

Apr 2, 2024, 12:33 PM | Updated: Apr 3, 2024, 12:08 pm

University of Arizona president Dr. Robert Robbins...

University of Arizona president Robert C. Robbins watches the action between the Arizona Wildcats and the USC Trojans at Arizona Stadium on October 29, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona. The Trojans beat the Wildcats 45-37. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

University of Arizona president Dr. Robert Robbins will step down by the end of his contract in 2026 or sooner if the university finds a suitable replacement before then, he told school employees on Tuesday.

“After significant consideration and personal contemplation, I informed the regents this morning that I will step down as president of the University of Arizona after fulfilling the terms of my current contract,” Robbins said in a press release issued by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR), the body that oversees the state’s three public universities.

“When a new president has been appointed by ABOR and she or he is prepared to start sooner than the end date of my contract, I will ensure a smooth transition to my successor and step aside earlier.”

Robbins’ contract expires in June 2026.

Last month, he took a 10% cut to his base salary and agreed to forego multiple performance bonuses after it was revealed the Tucson-based school was facing a $177 million budget shortfall. Some of that was related to losses in the athletic department.

Who has Robert Robbins hired in the University of Arizona athletics department?

Robbins became Arizona’s 22nd president on June 1, 2017, after the former cardiac surgeon served as president and CEO of the Texas Medical Center in Houston.

Robbins has been deeply involved in the athletic department since he took his role in 2017.

He hired athletic director Dave Heeke that year.

In Robbins’ experience as a heart surgeon, he had met longtime pro and college assistant coach Jedd Fisch for health-related reasons. The Wildcats made the out-of-the-box hire of Fisch in 2021 to replace football coach Kevin Sumlin.

Fisch quickly gained traction despite a 1-11 opening season in 2021. He left for the Washington Huskies’ opening after a 10-3 campaign in 2023, and the Wildcats replaced Fisch with former San Jose State coach Brent Brennan shortly before the school moved on from Heeke in January.

“I want to thank Dave for his outstanding efforts in leading our athletics program through a period of significant change,” Robbins said in a statement about that release. “He helped get our men’s and women’s basketball programs and our football program on a strong trajectory, oversaw the success of several of our sports teams and greatly enhanced the student-athlete experience. Dave always displayed the highest integrity, and I am appreciative of his partnership and dedication.”

Arizona took a month to replace Heeke with Desiree Reed-Francios, who jumped from the same position at Missouri.

Robbins also notably stood behind head coach Sean Miller through a recruiting scandal for years before firing him in 2021.

The president and Heeke replaced Miller by landing former Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd, a move and process that at the time received pushback from notable Arizona basketball alums like Gilbert Arenas and Richard Jefferson.’s Kevin Stone contributed to this story.

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