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Ray Anderson

Athletic Director
Arizona State University

Ray Anderson was named Arizona State University’s Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics Director on Jan. 9, 2014, and has quickly redefined the collegiate athletics landscape over the course of his tenure at ASU.

“At ASU, we have three priorities for our athletic director,” said University President Dr. Michael Crow, “help our student-athletes maximize their academic achievement and ensure they graduate on time; win; and win within the rules.  Ray has the skills, experience, and enthusiasm to accomplish those goals.  Under his leadership, ASU student-athletes will continue to perform at the highest level both on the field and in the classroom.  Ray will also play an important role in the university’s campaign to improve and expand its sports facilities through the development of the ASU Athletic Facilities District.”

Anderson was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential Minorities in Sports in February 2016, noting that he had “helped position the Sun Devils as one of the most innovative brands in college sports.” He received an extension in spring of 2018 through 2022. 

“It is an honor to receive this extension and I am humbled to be entrusted by Dr. Crow and the University to continue to lead Sun Devil Athletics,” said Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson in April of 2018. “The volume of success our teams have achieved in competition and in the classroom during my tenure at ASU is commendable and I unequivocally believe the future is even brighter. I look forward to working with our remarkable staff, coaches, student-athletes and esteemed colleagues on-campus to continue to build top caliber facilities and results for all our athletics programs.”

Highly influential in the world of collegiate athletics, Anderson is a board member of the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame, a member of the NCAA Football Oversight Committee, Chair of the new Ad Hoc NCAA Competition Committee, and most recently the Green Sports Alliance. Anderson was also one of a group of minority athletics directors to meet with NCAA President Mark Emmert and NCAA Leadership at the 2016 College Football Playoffs in Phoenix and encouraged the creation of a collegiate "Rooney Rule" to encourage diversity and inclusion in the hiring of athletics leadership. The initiative led the NCAA Board of Governors to create a pledge for university chancellors, presidents and conference commissioners to publicly express their support for diversity and inclusion efforts within intercollegiate athletics.

While national trends lean toward downsizing athletics departments and eliminating non-revenue generating sporting programs, Anderson has made it his mission to not only add NCAA Division I sports at Arizona State but expand educational and scholarship opportunities for future Sun Devil student-athletes.

The 2016-17 academic season and four-year Academic Progress Rate under Anderson continued to demonstrate his dedication to the “student” in student-athlete. From 2013-14 through 2016-17, the department recorded a record APR of 992 – second only to Stanford in the Pac-12 -- and up again from the previous four-year stretch of 990. In 2015-16, ASU's single-year overall APR reached an all-time high of 990.

In May 2016, Sun Devil Athletics announced the reinstatement of the men's tennis program at Arizona State – an act made possible through a $1M lead gift from Anderson himself and his wife, Buffie. The donation came just a month after Sun Devil Athletics announced a strategic alliance with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) to leverage the resources of a research-based University to grow the sport of tennis locally, nationally and globally. In June of 2018 he was named to the ITA board of directors.

In November 2014, Anderson announced the addition of the Men’s Ice Hockey program, which was made possible through a record-setting $32 million donation, the largest in Sun Devil Athletics history. This gift provided mechanisms to fund the addition of both women’s lacrosse and women’s triathlon, which were both announced in the fall of 2015. The addition of these programs not only helps Arizona State maintain equity among scholarships, but also creates new opportunities to attract and retain diverse talent, both academic and athletically.

Anderson has also clearly defined his expectations for Arizona State to be nationally competitive in all 26 varsity programs, and has parlayed this vision into a number of world-class head-coaching hires unseen at the collegiate level, including USA Swimming Coach Bob Bowman, a hall of famer and mentor to the world’s most decorated Olympian, to head up the men and women’s swimming program; Zeke Jones, USA Wrestling’s National Freestyle Coach, to take over the wrestling program and lead it to a Pac-12 Championship in 2017; Bobby Hurley, one of the most decorated college basketball players in history, to coach the men’s basketball program; Tracy Smith, a two-time conference coach of the year and experienced fundraiser, to revitalize the baseball program; Matt Hill, a three-time coach of the year with experience at three different Top 25 programs, to lead the reinstated men’s tennis program; Matt Thurmond, the 2009 National Coach of the Year and seven-time national Top-10 finisher, to take over ASU’s surging men’s golf program; former assistant Missy Farr-Kaye, the eventual National Coach of the Year and national champion head coach for the Devils in 2017; Greg Powers, who led the ASU club team to its first National Championship in 2014, to continue the growth of the new Sun Devil men's ice hockey program; and Cliff English, USA Triathlon’s Elite National Team Coach, to lead the very first Power-5 women's triathlon program which captured the 2016 & 2017 Women's Collegiate Triathlon National Championship. Most recently, in December of 2017, Anderson hired former NFL head coach and defensive back Herm Edwards as the new head coach of Sun Devil Football. 

Anderson is in the midst of an athletics’ facilities renaissance with the $307 million reinvention of Sun Devil Stadium and the University land development project known as the Athletic Facilities District or The District. The District is comprised of 330 acres of ASU-owned land that the University plans to lease long term to developers, while Sun Devil Athletics will receive annual payments in-lieu of property tax traditionally paid on privately owned land. Anderson, along with University officials, is leading the charge to reinvent Sun Devil Stadium into a community facility and use the 55,000-plus-seat venue to generate additional revenue for ASU. The Sun Devil Stadium 365 Reinvention seeks to blend athletics, student life, and the community into an interdisciplinary facility that will have utility beyond six or seven days a year. In addition, Anderson oversaw the baseball program’s celebrated move into Phoenix Municipal Stadium, and the men’s and women’s golf programs transition to Papago Golf Course. 

Since his arrival, Anderson has emphasized his commitment to the Olympic movement as a university and athletic department. Through this vision, the city of Tempe hosted the 2017 Women's Triathlon National Championship and an affiliated Age Group Race, and will welcome the events yet again in 2018. Most recently, the NCAA has announced ASU and Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale will host the 2020-22 NCAA Men's & Women's Golf National Championships, becoming the first university and course to host three-straight golf championships.

Not only has Anderson put an emphasis on the continued development of Sun Devil Athletics facilities, but to ensure that it is being done in the most sustainable and eco-friendly way possible. As a result, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USG Corporation announced Arizona State as the winner of the 2016 USG NACDA Sustainability Award for its work on Sun Devil Stadium and the Weatherup Center. The USG NACDA Sustainability Award was designed to recognize NACDA member institutions across all divisions, honoring athletics directors and their universities for incorporating sustainable practices and materials into their athletics facilities.

The ‘Sun Devil Way’, a mission statement that encompasses the goals of athletics at Arizona State – Sun Devils Win, Sun Devils Graduate, Sun Devils Serve, Sun Devils are for Life, and Sun Devils compete with Passion and Character - has served as the template for Anderson’s leadership philosophy. He has placed a strong emphasis on student-athlete development with a number of unique and creative initiatives, including the creation of the Senior Championship Life Experience program, which launched with a special showing of the play ‘Black Angels Over Tuskegee’ in January 2016 and the documentary ‘Last Gold’ following the 2016 Rio Olympic games.

Positioning Sun Devil Athletics as a community asset has stayed at the front of Anderson’s strategic plan and he has led a number of unprecedented community initiatives, including the creation of the Honor Row for military veterans at multiple Sun Devil facilities. With 100 percent participation in community service by Sun Devil student-athletes, coaches and staff in 2016, Sun Devil Athletics helped to serve 276,099 community members over 7,046.25 hours – both all-time highs for the department. Sun Devils Serve projects took place in four states (Arizona, California, Nevada and Louisiana) and three Native American Nations (Colorado River Indian Tribe, Gila River Indian Tribe, and Havasupai Tribe). Understanding the importance of building fan affinity, Anderson created the Sun Devil Caravan when he arrived in Tempe to reward Sun Devil Nation’s loyalty and enthusiasm. The caravan brings the Sun Devil Athletics experience directly to the fans and allows Sun Devil Nation to connect one-on-one with coaches, student-athletes, and administrators.

Anderson has implemented an innovative business model at Arizona State to foster growth and to create sustainable revenue sources for Sun Devil Athletics. Less than a year into his tenure, Anderson negotiated an industry-impacting apparel partnership with adidas in December of 2014. The eight-year, $38M agreement not only set provisions for wholesale apparel, but adidas also provided additional funding for marketing, facility improvements, marching band and spirit squad apparel. Anderson also strategically eliminated third-party partnerships and aligned Sun Devil Athletics’ ticketing and multimedia rights with the Pac-12 Sales Co., becoming the first member school to partner with the conference to bring sponsorships and licensing in-house.

He was recognized during the week of Super Bowl XLIX by the National Football League for his outstanding leadership with a desire to improving his community as he was presented with both the 2015 Paul J. Tagliabue Award and the John Wooten Lifetime Achievement Award, two of the NFL’s most prestigious honors.

Anderson joined the Sun Devil Family after serving as the executive vice president of football operations for the National Football League (NFL) since August 2006.

“In evaluating the next step in my career, I could not imagine a better, more exciting opportunity,” said Anderson.  “I am thrilled to become part of the team at Arizona State 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.” 

He served as the executive vice president and chief administrative officer of the Atlanta Falcons for four years and began his professional career as an attorney at Kilpatrick & Cody in Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked primarily in labor law litigation.

A Los Angeles, California native, Anderson earned a BA in political science from Stanford in 1976 and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1979.  He was an all-league high school quarterback and shortstop, and a three-year football letterman and two-year baseball letterman at Stanford.

Anderson co-founded the sports law practice at Heller, Ehrman, a prominent San Francisco firm, in 1980 and entered the sports agency business in 1984 when he opened the West Coast office for Sports Advisors Group.  In 1987, he launched his own agency, AR Sports, specializing in the representation of NFL coaches and players and later adding Major League Baseball players. Anderson merged his agency with Octagon in 2001.

As an indication of the high regard in which Anderson is held, he was appointed to the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity and was named to the Sports Illustrated list of the "101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports."  He was also named to the prestigious "100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc.", a group dedicated to providing support and improving the quality of life for African-Americans, and to the Board of Governors of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.

In April 2014, it was announced that Anderson would be a professor of practice in ASU’s new sports law and business program, a collaboration of the highly ranked Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and W. P. Carey School of Business.

He and his wife, Buffie, have one son, Bryant, and one daughter, Kimberly.

Wednesday, December 05

STADIUM in the SPOTLIGHT - The Reinvention of Sun Devil Stadium at Arizona State University

ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson will give the audience a virtual guided tour through the renovation of Sun Devil Stadium. He will discuss the multi-year renovation details which includes concessions enhancements; major upgrades; and expanding how the stadium has transformed into a year-round venue.

Moderator: Glenn Wong, Distinguished Professor of Practice (Sports Law) and Executive Director, Sports Law & Business Program, Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
Ray Anderson, Athletic Director, Arizona State University