The University of Missouri recently introduced Desiree Reed-Francois as its new Athletic Director. What impact will she have on the Missouri Tigers?
Sunday, the University of Missouri formally announced the hiring of former UNLV athletic director, Desiree Reed-Francois. She joins the Missouri Tigers as the new athletic director, following the resignation of Jim Sterk.
Reed-Francois had led the UNLV athletics department since 2017, when she became the first woman of color to be an FBS school’s athletic director. She also had hands-on experience with the Virginia Tech football program and Tennessee men’s basketball program.
She said the following in Missouri’s official news release:
"“We have a proud and storied tradition; we compete in the premier athletic conference in the country; and, perhaps most importantly, we have a collective desire to be great. My family and I are excited to join the Mizzou Family, and I cannot wait to get started.”"
Reed-Francois is the first female athletic director at Missouri and introduced herself to the Tigers in a bold way.
Tigers football head coach Eliah Drinkwitz welcomed the new athletic director with open arms as well.
Drinkwitz told the Columbian the following:
"“(I’m) excited about the choice that our President and curators brought in and look forward to getting to work with her and continuing our goals of raising the profile of Mizzou athletics and working with her as a team, but also our goal of competing for championships here in the SEC.”"
While Reed-Francois has cited the culture and people as reasons for her move to Missouri, the pay certainly helps. Her six-year contract guarantees an $800,000 base salary. In comparison, UNLV previously paid Reed-Francois $420,000 per year.
Replacing Jim Sterk was a fairly quick process, with only 13 days between Sterk’s announcement of his resignation and the hire of Reed-Francois. Search committee chair Jeffrey Layman says he is confident in the committee’s choice.
Layman issued the following statement in Missouri’s news release on the hire of Reed-Francois:
"“She is a tough, dynamic, innovative leader who can help build upon Mizzou’s successes and position us to regularly compete for championships in the SEC and beyond.”"
Reed-Francois joins Missouri during an interesting time for the Southeastern Conference as Oklahoma and Texas set to join the SEC by 2025, at the latest. Add on new NIL rules and the path forward for college athletics is foggy for some.
That said, Missouri president Mun Choi seems to trust Reed-Francois to lead the athletics department into the future.
Choi said the following in Missouri’s news release:
"“This is a transformational day for Mizzou Athletics. Desiree Reed-Francois brings an unsurpassed passion for student-athletes and bold, visionary skills that will propel a championship culture at MU. As a proud member of the SEC, we are energized to go into the next era of Mizzou athletics with Desiree Reed-Francois at the helm.”"