Ray Anderson must really love his job as the Vice President for Athletics at Arizona State University. So far, he appears to be giving back to the school more money than he’s being paid.
How’s that for creating job security?
Anderson and his wife, Buffie, just donated a lead gift of $1 million dollars so that the Pac-12 school can reinstate the men’s tennis program, which has been off the books for the past eight years.
And in September of 2014, Anderson and head football coach Todd Graham each plunked down a $500,000 donation to help fuel the fund-raising effort that had begun to round up the $225 million it will take to renovate Sun Devil Stadium.
Anderson’s base salary when he signed on at ASU was reportedly $600,000 a year. Do the math, folks. Two years into the Athletics Director job – he was hired in January of 2014 – he appears to have donated more than he’s earned. OK, he also has hefty performance-based bonuses built into his contract, but still…
So what’s the poor guy living on? Not to worry, when he left the NFL, where he was the executive vice president for football operations, he was reportedly pulling down somewhere in the vicinity of $2 million a year.
Nonetheless, his commitment to the ASU sports program is without precedent. When he and Graham made their contributions to the football fund-raising campaign, the school said at the time that the donations were the largest gifts by athletic-department employees in the history of the school. Now he’s raised the bar again.
“I am so pleased that Buffie and I can personally support opportunities for our student-athletes,” Anderson said when making the announcement earlier this afternoon. “In my time here, and as I have learned about the history of the program, I have come to understand how much the sport of men’s tennis means to the community. Finding a way to reinstate the men’s tennis program was a passion for Buffie and myself.”
Just five weeks ago, ASU announced the formation of an alliance with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), the governing body for college tennis, that will use outreach initiatives to increase local participation and accessibility to tennis programs for all age groups and talent levels. (phxfan article, March 31)
At the time, ASU said the strategic alliance “holds the potential to transform the Valley of the Sun into the leading tennis community in the West.”
The school’s apparel partner, adidas, is also contibuting to the revival of men’s tennis. But Anderson points to the ITA partnership as a driving force:
“ASU’s alliance with the ITA was the perfect precursor to re-energize the tennis community in the Valley, and bring back men’s tennis to Arizona State.”
In May of 2008, ASU announced the discontinuation of men’s tennis due to what it called “economic realities experienced over a long period of time.” Wrestling and men’s swimming were also included in the budget cut, but found sources of funding and were reinstated shortly after.
That was a tough call at the time because men’s tennis was the second-oldest sport on campus, behind only football, which traces its roots to 1897. ASU became one of just four teams in the Pac-12 that did not offer men’s tennis.
ASU has added four new programs in the last 18 months under Anderson’s reign and now offers a total of 26 NCAA varsity sports.
In total, ASU has raised $5 million to fund the start of the men’s tennis program, but will continue working toward a goal of $10 million needed to sustain the program.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)