ARIZONA STATE

Karpman: ASU’s next AD Graham Rossini ‘wouldn’t be a serious candidate’ elsewhere

May 15, 2024, 12:46 PM | Updated: 12:47 pm

Arizona State president Michael Crow...

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

(Jeremy Schnell/Arizona Sports)

The expected hire of Graham Rossini as Arizona State University’s new athletic director has thrown up some red flags across the industry.

But among the biggest eye-brow raisers centers around the search process itself.

“The only reason Graham Rossini is expected to get this job is because he works at ASU. If you took the identical resume any other place in the country, college athletics, he wouldn’t be a serious candidate,” SunDevilSource.com’s Chris Karpman told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Wednesday. “Michael Crow’s shown over the years for a very long time the propensity, the willingness to be against the grain and do things he just prefers even against the suggestion of others. … Graham Rossini, who I’ve been told for weeks, the last several months, is the only person Michael Crow has targeted for this position.

“I talked to a lot of industry insiders, people that work at search firms. I talked to several other athletic directors and agents of a number of athletic directors, none of whom said that they heard of ASU seriously vetting or interviewing any other candidates.”

Despite limited experience and reports of pushback by ASU donors due to Rossini being an internal choice, he now takes over a changing college landscape thanks to birth of NIL (name, image and likeness) deals and the transfer portal.

Rossini, who has served as executive senior associate athletic director and chief business officer at ASU, already has some big decisions to make when it comes to improving Desert Financial Arena and bringing both the football and men’s basketball programs back up to par.

He’ll also need to make up lost time, being that the university’s athletic department has been without proper leadership since former vice president for university athletics Ray Anderson stepped down last November. Anderson had been in the role since 2014.

It’s no doubt going to be an uphill climb, leaving many to wonder how someone with no prior outside experience at any level of a college athletics department really be the best fit moving forward for ASU.

And why would Crow opt for an in-house option rather than hiring an external candidate who has proven himself elsewhere?

“The most likely scenario that people have said to me is Michael Crow wants control,” Karpman said. “He wants things to be done his way, that someone who’s external and has already been successful at another as an athletic director would have a lot more deeply intrenched perspective about what needs to happen to course-correct at ASU and that would be something that Crow would maybe be resistant to and that makes a lot of sense.”

“(The lack of vetting ahead of the expected Rossini hiring) was very baffling actually to a lot of (people in the industry), particularly given the atmospherics of ASU really struggling in the last few years, the NCAA investigation, a lot of sentiment out there that there needs to be a course correction of kind of the leadership element and Michael Crow almost being tone deaf to that is the perception in the industry,” he added.

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Karpman: ASU’s next AD Graham Rossini ‘wouldn’t be a serious candidate’ elsewhere