Feb. 19, 2024

University of Arizona appoints Desireé Reed-Francois as Director of Athletics

  • What: The University of Arizona announces the appointment of Desireé Reed-Francois as the university's Director of Athletics.
  • When: Tuesday, Feb. 20, 9 a.m.
  • Where: Arizona Stadium football press room (ground floor, northeast corner of the stadium)

TUCSON, Ariz. — Veteran intercollegiate athletics administrator Desireé Reed-Francois has been appointed the University of Arizona's new Director of Athletics, pending approval by the Arizona Board of Regents, President Robert C. Robbins announced today. Reed-Francois currently serves as the Director of Athletics at the University of Missouri and will begin her tenure in Tucson on March 3.

Members of the University of Arizona community and media are invited to join a formal introduction of Reed-Francois at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Arizona Stadium in the football press room.

"We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Desireé to the University of Arizona family, and we could not be more excited about the leadership experience and outstanding credentials she brings," said Robbins. "Respected nationally for her commitment to student-athletes, Desireé has a history of success everywhere she's served and is exactly the right person we need to modernize our athletics operations and usher in an ongoing culture of success in all aspects of Athletics. This is a tremendous win for our university and I cannot wait for her to get started."

The terms of the five-year contract include an annual base salary of $1 million in year one elevating to $1.2 million in year five, with an additional $250,000 annual contribution from the University of Arizona Foundation. Reed-Francois will have the opportunity for additional incentive compensation based on the department's athletic and academic success, as well as retention bonuses after four and five years of employment with the University. Thanks to Wildcat supporters who continue to show their deep commitment to the University and Arizona Athletics, any retention bonus or buyout expenses for Reed-Francois will be fully covered by donor funds. Donor funds have also been secured to cover the full payout costs of the University's previous athletic director.

Reed-Francois brings proven business expertise and financial acumen to the Director of Athletics position. She is an accomplished fundraiser and relationship builder and has transformed two collegiate athletic departments into high-performing, cost-effective operations. Reed-Francois also has deep ties to the University of Arizona, where she earned her juris doctorate from the James E. Rogers College of Law in 1997.

Reed-Francois has served as the Director of Athletics at the University of Missouri since 2021, raising the athletics program's profile over the past several years to include a top 10 football program, postseason berths across multiple sports, and enhancements to student-athlete welfare and support. In addition to hiring six head coaches, she has overseen the department's first budget surplus in six years; record-breaking successes in fundraising, including securing the largest gift in Missouri Athletics history of $62 million; five straight semesters of record student-athlete GPAs; attendance growth in football and basketball; the opening of the Stephens Indoor Football Practice Center; significant upgrades to the game-day experience for fans; the growth of the Missouri brand across the state and country; and implementation of innovative Name Image Likeness (NIL) initiatives.

"There are very few institutions that would entice me to leave an SEC athletics department with strong momentum," said Reed-Francois. "The University of Arizona has tremendous potential and is an institution — and an athletics program — on the rise, and I want to be a part of shaping that future. We will provide a world-class student-athlete experience, which includes competing for championships and being among the nation's elite. I am grateful to President Robbins and the Arizona Board of Regents for this incredible opportunity."

Prior to her tenure in Columbia, Reed-Francois served as the Director of Athletics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2017-2021), revitalizing the department. During her time with the Rebels, she completed or implemented more than $70 million in facility upgrades; hired seven head coaches, including three who earned conference Coach of the Year honors early in their tenures; oversaw the completion and opening of a $35 million on-campus football training complex; and successfully negotiated a joint-use agreement with the NFL's Las Vegas Raiders with the opening of the new $2 billion Allegiant Stadium.

Prior to ascending to the director's chair, Reed-Francois served several institutions in leadership roles, including as the Deputy Athletics Director at Virginia Tech, as a Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of Cincinnati and as the Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of Tennessee. Additionally, she has worked at Fresno State University, Santa Clara University, San Jose State University, the University of California Berkeley and the University of San Francisco. She also has experience at the professional levels, working with the then Oakland Raiders and the National Football League Management Council.  

Reed-Francois currently is the Vice Chair of the Lead1 Association Board of Directors and serves on the organization's executive committee, as well as on the boards of Women Leaders in Sports, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches. Reed-Francois recently served as Vice Chair of the NCAA Baseball Selection Committee and formerly was a member of the College Football Playoff Committee's operations committee. In addition, she is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators (NACMA) and has been a presenter at NACDA, NACMA, Women Leaders in Sports, and Sports Business Journal's annual conventions.

Reed-Francois was a rower at UCLA, where she graduated with a degree in political science before earning her juris doctorate from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law. She is a member of the State Bar of California and has taught law classes at the University of Tennessee and at Santa Clara University.

She and her husband, Josh Francois, have a son, Jackson, who is currently a sophomore on the men's basketball team at the University of Missouri.

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Media contact:
Matt Ensor
Arizona Athletics

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2022 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $824 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 71 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. and Canada. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually.