Ray Anderson called his new job his “dream destination” after being introduced this morning as the new athletic director at Arizona State University, filling the void left by Steve Patterson‘s abrupt departure in early November.
Heard that before? Sure, just about anyone who’s taken a job as either a college coach or college AD calls it his dream job. In fact, Patterson said something similar before taking the position just three years ago. Apparently, the job he took as the AD at University of Texas was really the one he’d been dreaming about.
That’s three athletic directors that have left for bigger, richer programs in the last 14 years: Kevin White to Notre Dame, Gene Smith to Ohio State, and Patterson to the Longhorns. Now Sun Devil nation will try to hold on to Anderson as long as it can – assuming he turns out to be the catch they think they have.
And Anderson is trying already to assure the faithful he will be here long-term. “This is not a stepping stone to anywhere,” he said at the 11:30 a.m. press conference called at the Scottsdale Hyatt Regency to accommodate ASU President Michael Crow, who is attending the university’s annual senior staff retreat being held in the area.
After waiting patiently during Crow’s nearly 10-minute introduction that included a dissertation on the significance and value of athletics at the college level and an extended promo for the Pac-12 Conference, Anderson took the microphone and told the assembled media that he plans to “hit the ground running” when he begins his new job next month.
He demonstrated a sense of humor when he told everyone that he’s not a “corny type of guy” but couldn’t help but say that he “can’t be more tingled.” Tingled?
In the prepared statement that went up on the ASU website, he elaborated further on the opportunity to be at ASU. “In evaluating the next step in my career, I could not imagine a better, more exciting opportunity.”
Next step? I thought this wasn’t going to be a step?
“I am thrilled to become part of the team at Arizona State,” he continued, “and energized by the academic and athletic mission of this great university. I am eagerly looking forward to the challenge of not only continuing the success of Arizona State athletics, but also building on it to accomplish even more in line with President Crow’s priorities.” Crow had pointed out the importance of the academic achievements of the athletes in his opening remarks, something he made clear he expects his new hire to incorporate into his objectives.
Anderson, a former football player at Stanford who was a sports agent early in his career, is leaving his position as executive vice president for football operations at the National Football League to take the ASU post. He has been in that job since 2006, when he left his role as a vice president with the NFL Atlanta Falcons.
His academic credentials are solid, earning a BA in political science at Stanford and his juris doctorate degree from Harvard Law School in 1979. He began his professional career as an attorney in Atlanta, where he worked primarily in labor law litigation. He entered the sports agency business in 1984 when he opened the West Coast office for Sports Advisors Group, and then opened his own shop three years later, representing NFL coaches and players and later adding Major League Baseball players.
He was appointed to the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity and was also named to Sports Illustrated’s list of the “101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports.”
His first big challenge in his new position will be getting a handle on the Athletic Facilities District project, a mixed-use commercial development along Rio Salado that will be integral to helping with the funding for the current Sun Devil Stadium renovations and work needed on other facilities around campus. The long-range vision is to transform the area into a major amateur sports destination.
Anderson’s right about one thing. He will, indeed, need to hit the ground running.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)