Athletic director Ray Anderson brought former NFL colleagues to Sun Devil Athletics, which recently hired associate vice president and chief business development officer Greg McElroy and senior associates athletic director David Cohen.
Both McElroy, who worked for the Dallas Cowboys prior to accepting an offer at ASU, and Cohen, who worked for the Atlanta Falcons, said Anderson’s hiring was an important aspect that pushed them towards collegiate athletics.
Anderson worked with Cohen for three seasons with Atlanta, and McElroy said the athletic director provided the right leadership at ASU.
“I’m not here if it’s not for Ray Anderson,” he said.
Anderson showed similar confidence in the new hires.
“(McElroy’s) time in Dallas as a key member of their stadium development, sales, marketing, sponsorhip and naming rights efforts makes him uniquely qualified to provide tremendous value to us at this exciting time,” he said in an email. “His track record for being excellent in things that touch revenue generation is impeccable.”
McElroy’s hiring shows commitment toward the renovations of Sun Devil Stadium. He took part in the construction of the Cowboy’s stadium, AT&T; Stadium, in 2009.
He said the main focus was generating maximum revenue.
“We designed a lot of areas that would be beneficial to sponsors and premium seat holders with suites and clubs,” he said.
Work has started at the north end zone of Sun Devil Stadium, and McElroy said the next couple offseasons will provide significant change to the stadium. As of now, there has been very little change. The architect was just hired, so they are in the design phase.
Cohen will continue working with ticketing at ASU. In Atlanta, he helped the Falcons become one of the first NFL teams to provide direct customer service representatives to season ticket holders to answer questions or complaints. Additionally, he said, he helped increase ticket revenue by a great deal.
“When I first came in, we had an overall ticket revenue goal or gradual budget of $19 million, and when I left, we were at $74 million,” he said.
Anderson spoke highly of him.
“Cohen brings a distinct skill set and has worked to develop those abilities over many years of quality service in both professional sports and in the corporate business world,” he said. “His expertise will blend with our existing administrative and support staffs to continue to elevate Sun Devil Athletics.”
McElroy and Cohen both said one of their challenges will be generating extra revenue for smaller-scale sports.
“One thing we had in the NFL was one team, one sport,” Cohen said. “What’s unique about the university system is we (have) 22 varsity sports.
Each of them has an importance in the school, and employees in the athletic department need to find ways to focus on each of them.
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet with all of (the coaches) and finding their priorities and expectations,” Cohen said. “Right now what I’m looking to do is match our resources so that each one of those are allowed the best opportunity to grow.”
McElroy said an idea he has is to leverage sports like football, basketball and baseball to influence sponsors to help with the others.
“I think what we have to do is we have to leverage our bigger sports and make (sponsors) participate in our smaller ones and make it a total integrated package,” he said.
In this, a sponsor would be asked to participate in more sports and not just “cherry pick” the larger ones, McElroy said.
“Especially with a renovated stadium… if you want to participate in football, we’re going to need you to help our over in these other sports as well,” he said.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Logan_Newsman