Steve Patterson cheated on ASU.
Naturally, this led to a tough breakup. Patterson moved on to his mistress, Texas, while ASU was stuck, blindsided, with no athletic director.
As is common, ASU was drawn to a polar opposite of the man who broke its heart — sometimes deemed an overcorrection. But Ray Anderson is far from a mistake.
The people-loving Anderson is the perfect man to take over for the business-oriented Patterson.
Don’t misinterpret the message, though. ASU wouldn’t be where it is today without Patterson. His business expertise helped elevate the University to a position in which it could hire a leader such as Anderson.
When Patterson was hired, all the talk was about reaching the $100 million mark in athletics revenue and “gaining national championships, gaining conference championships, rebuilding our facilities (and) moving forward in other dimensions,” ASU President Michael Crow said at the time.
Nearly two years later, money hasn’t been a topic of discussion for Anderson. Instead, the talk is about academics.
They say opposites attract, but do they really? Anderson and Crow’s visions for ASU match up so well, it’s hard to see them not working in harmony.
Anderson sees a 10- to 12-year plan ahead of him in terms of combining academic and athletic success. He talks about being both athletically and academically elite, “top 5, best in class,” he said. Anderson wants student athletes to leave ASU with the same education as non-athletes.
We’re almost 12 years into Crow’s vision of a New American University.
In that time, Crow has managed to turn ASU from a renowned party school into one that is respected in the world of academia. With Anderson’s plan, athletics will start to move in the same direction.
While that’s good and all, there are things we’d like to see from the Anderson regime, specifically a focus on the non-revenue sports.
Anderson has already leaped over Patterson in this category. In his three weeks on the job, he hasn’t been able to do anything behind the scenes, but showing his face at events is a huge step in the right direction.
For Patterson, if it didn’t make money, it seemingly didn’t matter. Anderson, on the other hand, attends games ranging from tennis to baseball to swim and dive.
Rather than focus on selling tickets, it’s a refreshing change of pace to see the man in power want to see growth in the sports themselves.
By doing so, it’s clear Anderson is in this for the long haul. As he’s reiterated, ASU isn’t a stepping stone for him, as it has been for so many others.
The tables have turned. ASU is the destination. We have high expectations for Anderson’s tenure, but so does he.
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