New AD Graham Rossini makes up for inexperience with passion for Arizona State

May 23, 2024, 4:24 PM | Updated: 4:26 pm

New Arizona State athletic director Graham Rossini is not going to lie to you. He’s aware that his hiring comes across as a bit unorthodox.

“Sure, yeah,” Rossini told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Thursday when asked if he is an out-of-the-box candidate. “I’m not a known commodity in AD circles. I’m the first person to admit that. But where I think I can make up for not having AD chair experience so to speak is I’ve thought of ASU every day since I was 11 (years old).”

Rossini is, if anything, overqualified when it comes to passion for the Sun Devils. He credits his time arriving on campus as a turning point in his life.

“Everything good in my adult life happened the moment I came to ASU,” Rossini said. “My professional opportunities, some of my best friendships, my wife played volleyball at ASU. … My decision to come to Tempe at 18 (years old) has put all these things in motion and ASU has been the backdrop.”

Rossini got his administrative start as director of baseball operations for Arizona State in 2002 after graduating from ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall formed a relationship with Rossini at Arizona State and attempted to hire Rossini on multiple occasions before finally bringing him along in 2008 to do work in the special projects and fan experience department. Rossini spent 13 years with the D-backs and then came back to Arizona State as senior associate athletic director in 2021.

The big headline to come out of Thursday was that Rossini was the lone candidate interviewed by Arizona State for the position that had been vacant since mid-November. Rossini was asked about that.

“I’m not aware of that. I don’t know what the process was behind the scenes,” he said, noting ASU president Michael Crow asked to speak with him a few days after former AD Ray Anderson no longer had the position.

“They were very clear. They said, ‘Hey, we’re looking at a new way to approach athletics and we’re going to be very methodical on how do we set Sun Devil athletics up for the most amount of success using the full strength of ASU behind it.'” he said. “We had great conversation. He said, ‘I don’t know what this process will be. You are under consideration, we’re very aware of your skill set, we think it could be a fit, it’s something that we’re interested in learning more and so just stay close to us, stay close to this process and we’ll see where we land.'”

Six months later, Rossini landed with the job.

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