ASU was left to hunt for a new athletic director when Steve Patterson left for the same position at the University of Texas at Austin. It was also left a chance for philosophical change.
Including Patterson, three of ASU’s past four athletic directors have used the position to move onto a role with higher prestige. Gene Smith went to Ohio State and Jack Swarbrick left for Notre Dame.
ASU President Michael Crow is tired of that. He wanted someone who was going to stay a Sun Devil for a long time.
Crow outlined what he was looking for in a new athletic director back on Dec. 2. He set a few requirements that the candidate would need, seemingly in direct reference to Patterson’s departure.
“What we’re after is … to find the match between a non-traditionalist,” Crow said. “We’re also not interested in someone that’s just looking to jack up their salary or move up the chain or something where we’re just this stepping stone to some other place.”
Enter, Ray Anderson.
Anderson comes from a background in the NFL, where he served in the football operations department and as the vice president of the Atlanta Falcons. He will now serve as ASU athletic director and University vice president.
Anderson made it clear early on in his introductory press conference on Thursday that he was just who Crow wanted. He even used the same wording that Crow did.
“This is a dream destination for me … this is not a stepping stone, this is my destination,” Anderson said.
Crow also said back in December that money was going to play a big role in the hiring process, but not in the same way it did in Patterson’s decision to leave ASU for Texas.
Patterson will reportedly have his salary tripled in Austin, but ASU does not have the financial resources to lure a candidate seeking a large salary. For that reason, Crow said someone with a real to desire to have the job is paramount.
“How does a person go back to their family and say, ‘Well, I’m going to go work at Arizona State and they pay a lot less than the other places, but I’m really happy to be there?’” Crow said. “That’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for people not as much driven by money as their objective.”
Anderson, coming from a high-prestige position with the NFL, is expected to take a pay cut to come to Tempe.
A reporter asked him why he would come to ASU and take less money, at which point Crow leaned back in his chair, grinned and said, “Well, let’s hear it.”
Anderson laughed, then hit the nail on the head.
“I don’t need NFL money,” he said. “I need gratification.”
Anderson seemed to hit the nail on the head with every question he answered. He went to Stanford, but said he can’t wait to get to beating his alma mater on the field.
Even Crow’s point about the new athletic director going back to his family was addressed. Anderson’s wife, Buffie, was at the press conference, grinning from ear to ear, having been labeled a sports fanatic by her husband.
Crow and his team went into the search for an athletic director looking for a person with a certain set of traits. In Anderson, ASU can look to the future while moving on from the past and Patterson. Anderson is a breath of fresh air that ASU needs, and most importantly, he doesn’t see ASU as a stepping stone.
Crow said Anderson will have three goals in his new position. First, he is to “deliver an athletic academic program.” Second, and most important to the fans, he is to win. And thirdly, Crow said he wants Anderson to connect with the community.
Crow then turned the microphone over to Anderson.
“I am up to the task,” Anderson said.
Crow certainly hopes so. After all, Anderson is exactly the man for whom Crow was looking.
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