Pac-12 school’s athletics director announces resignation

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Arizona State fans have been lobbying for Ray Anderson’s resignation for two years. They finally got what they wanted as the athletics director stepped down Monday with three years left on his contract.

Anderson has headed the school’s athletics department since 2014 and has been under fire since the hiring of football coach Herm Edwards went terribly wrong. The two had a long association with Anderson having served as Edwards’ agent during his NFL playing days.

The school issued a statement confirming Anderson’s resignation effective immediately, adding that he will remain as a professor of practice and senior adviser for the sports law and business program at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. 

‘It has been a privilege to serve as ASU’s athletic director for nearly a decade,’ Anderson said in the statement. ‘We have entered an unprecedented era where the number and magnitude of changes in the college sports landscape are astounding. As I approach my seventh decade of life, these are not matters that my leadership would be able to corral during my tenure. Continuity of leadership will be needed, and I am choosing to step aside to let the university find that leader.’

Jim Rund, ASU senior vice president for educational outreach and student services, will serve as interim athletics director. Rund was the interim athletics director in 2013 following the departure of Steve Patterson to the University of Texas, the statement said.

Anderson’s resignation precedes Arizona State making the transition from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 conference next year.

‘I want to sincerely thank the many ASU student-athletes as well as our dedicated coaches and staff for the pleasure of leading them as their athletic director,’ Anderson said. ‘They have all been wonderful partners and teammates.’

The departure comes as the football program is working to recover from problems left behind by Edwards, who was hired in December 2017 as head coach.

He parted ways with the program three games into the 2022 season and left with a cloud of an NCAA investigation into recruiting violations hanging over the program. Rather than fire Edwards for cause, the school gave him a $4.4 million buyout, which rubbed school supporters the wrong way, given the NCAA issue.

The school also announced a self-imposed bowl ban four days before the season opener against Southern Utah, a move that blindsided current head coach Kenny Dillingham and put this year’s team at a disadvantage before it had even kicked off. The school could have done that last season but chose not to so opting for that course of action this year penalizes a coaching staff and roster made up of mostly newcomers that had nothing to do with the past regime.

The call for Anderson to step down has only intensified. For the first three home games, mobile billboards have circulated the campus advocating for his removal.

Despite the recent criticisms, the athletic department had some major accomplishments under his watch, most notably a $268 million renovation to Mountain America Stadium, with the school also generating money for the naming rights of the venue formerly known as Sun Devil Stadium.

Among the other success was the addition of Mullett Arena, which serves as home to the school’s men’s ice hockey program as well as the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. ASU’s gymnastics and volleyball teams also use the facility, which has been a revenue maker due largely to the rent paid by the Coyotes.

Anderson also negotiated an eight-year, $38 million apparel agreement with Adidas and has added four varsity sports since he took over – men’s hockey, women’s lacrosse, men’s tennis and triathlon.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY