TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State has a new man in charge of their athletic department, as they have announced the hiring of Ray Anderson as the new athletic director and university vice president.
"I am excited, eager and proud to be new VP of Athletics," Anderson said at his introductory press conference on Thursday. "This to me is a dream destination."
Like his predecessor—Steve Patterson—Anderson brings a wealth of experience in the professional sports ranks. Anderson has spent the last eight years as the NFL's executive vice president of football operations. Prior to that position, he served four years in the front office of the Atlanta Falcons.
“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.”
Last month, Anderson announced his intention to leave his longtime position with the NFL.
"I have been involved in many different aspects of the NFL—as an agent, club executive, and league executive," Anderson said at the time. "I have always enjoyed new challenges and the time is right for me to evolve into the next phase of my career."
That next phase will now take place in Tempe, where continuing the work on the Sun Devil Stadium renovations and creation of a corresponding athletic district will be among his top priorities.
He will continue his duties with the NFL through the Super Bowl, and will start with ASU on February 5th.
Anderson said that during the hiring process, several people close to him told him that this position at ASU could be an even greater opportunity than becoming a team president or general manager for an NFL team.
"I don't need NFL money," Anderson said. "I need gratification and a chance to be a part of something special and really dynamic"
During the search for the position, ASU President Michael Crow was looking for many qualities that were paramount into building what he called "an athletic academic program." Crow feels that he has found his man in Anderson.
“At ASU we have three priorities for our athletic director,” said ASU president 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.”
A graduate of Stanford, where he played both football and baseball in the mid 1970s, Anderson then graduated from Harvard law school. He practiced labor law in Atlanta prior to opening up his own sports agency representing both players and coaches in 1987.
The head athletics job at ASU became available last November when Patterson left Tempe to take the same job—and a hefty raise—at the University of Texas. Patterson officially took the job in March of 2012 after a stint as ASU's chief operating officer of athletics.
In a release, head football coach Todd Graham said "I am very impressed with the hire of Ray Anderson as our Vice President for University Athletics. Ray has a unique blend of professional experiences and that will serve him well at ASU. I especially like the fact that he has a football background, both as a player and as a professional in the marketplace. I'm anxious for him to get started so that we can continue the momentum that we have built over the past 18 months."
ASU has nearly 500 student-athletes in 22 varsity sports and maintains an impressive 82% graduation success rate.