New UNLV AD Desiree Reed-Francois Will Be Faced With Several Challenges On Day One
Desiree Reed-Francois was introduced yesterday as the new UNLV AD, and she is "going to be faced with some monumental challenges" when she officially takes office, according to Mike Grimala of the LAS VEGAS SUN. UNLV is "stuck in a floundering mid-major conference, the athletics department is running a multi-million-dollar deficit, and neither of the two revenue-generating sports -- football and men’s basketball -- are selling enough tickets to stay relevant in the local market if they remain on their current course." Reed-Francois believes her experience in collegiate sports -- including stops at Tennessee, Cincinnati and Virginia Tech -- have "primed her for this job but acknowledged it will take some time to grasp the full scope of an AD’s responsibilities." She has spoken with all of UNLV’s head coaches and is in the "process of reaching out to all of the school’s major boosters." Grimala notes in addition to her "attention to detail, she draws rave reviews for her personality and interpersonal skills, and that will help her hit the ground running." Even the "specter of competing against professional sports teams for local attention doesn’t seem to dampen Reed-Francois’ optimism." She thinks UNLV can still "offer a unique sports experience for locals, and that with a good product on the floor, the Rebels won’t be overwhelmed by the Golden Knights and the Raiders" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 4/19). In Las Vegas, Mark Anderson noted UNLV will provide Reed-Francois with "control of the Thomas & Mack Center and Sam Boyd Stadium." Reed-Francois agreed to a "five-year deal" with UNLV that pays $350,000 annually and runs through June 30, 2022. (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/18).
THE REAL MVP: In Las Vegas, Ed Graney writes Reed-Francois won yesterday's introductory news conference in the way a "No. 1 seed handles a 16 in the NCAA Tournament." She was that "impressive, and it’s now obvious why and how she annihilated the competition to become UNLV’s next athletic director." However, one thing "stands paramount to whether her tenure will ultimately be deemed a success." Graney: "Can she raise money?" The heartbeat of higher education is "defined through philanthropy, and nobody relies on it more in major college athletics" in '17 than a non-Power Five program in a conference with a "forgettable TV contract." Graney: "I don’t see her being deterred from those who might offer initial negative reactions of her efforts to get money flowing in UNLV’s direction, because she seems the sort who will keep offering the use of a pen until the person writes a check." UNLV President Len Jessup "on paper ... hit a home run with this hire." He more than "delivered on his end." Now, it is on Reed-Francois to "do the same" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 4/19).