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UPDATED: Mizzou announces Desiree Reed-Francois as new Athletic Director

Pete Thamel was the first to report, which has since been confirmed by others and announced by the University.

Utah State v UNLV Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

UPDATED: Mizzou has officially announced the hire of Desiree Reed-Francois as Athletic Director. From the release:

University of Missouri President Mun Choi announced today that Desiree Reed-Francois, athletics director at UNLV, has been named as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics for the university. Reed-Francois was selected following a search led by UM Curator Jeff Layman and assisted by Parker Executive Search.

“This is a transformational day for Mizzou Athletics,” Choi said. “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.”

“It is truly an honor to join Missouri’s flagship institution, and I am extremely grateful to search committee Chair Layman and members of the search advisory committee for this incredible opportunity,” said Reed-Francois. “The University of Missouri is a world-class academic institution with a strong commitment to athletics, and a resolve to further enhance its athletics programs to achieve elite national status is all of our endeavors. 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. Go Tigers!”

“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. The SEC is the toughest conference in the nation, and we are poised for continued success with Desiree as our leader,” said Layman, who was chair of the search committee. “I’m indebted to members of the search committee for their tremendous effort. We had an exceptionally strong pool of candidates that demonstrates the bright future of Mizzou Athletics.”

“We’ve taken an incredible step forward,” said Darryl Chatman, chair of the UM Board of Curators. “I’d like to extend my welcome and congratulations to Desiree Reed-Francois and Mizzou. This is a fantastic hire, and I’m excited about the future. Our student-athletes compete in the nation’s toughest conference and always have a national championship in their sights. I’m excited for our student-athletes, our university, our fans, our supporters and our state. We are building great things here at Mizzou.”

“Desiree brings a variety of quality experiences to student-athletes as a leader on many campuses and in many conferences,” said Greg Sankey, commissioner of the SEC. “As she continues to build the University of Missouri athletics program, I look forward to working with her in her new role as we continue the progress of the SEC – the strongest conference in the country.”

And this last line...

She and her husband, Joshua, have a son, Jackson, who will be attending MU in Fall 2022 to study journalism.

Ahhhh, now it all makes sense. Take the Mizzou job, get your kid a free J-school degree. Better than actual currency and the significant salary bump she’s about to receive.

PREVIOUSLY: It certainly looks like Mun Choi has made his decision for the next Athletics Director at Missouri:

The news has since been confirmed by multiple other local and national outlets. From Matter’s article:

Reed-Francois’ hiring is significant across both gender and racial lines. She will be the first woman and first person of color to serve as Mizzou’s athletics director in a full-time capacity. The 49-year-old from Fremont, California, is Hispanic. She’ll be the first woman to run an athletics department at a public institution in the Southeastern Conference. In 2017, when she took over in Las Vegas, she became the first female person of color to become an athletics director at the FBS level.

If you read my column from yesterday, I liked the idea of Reed-Francois:

I’m really intrigued by Matter’s second name, Desiree Reed-Francois. Reed-Francois has hired a lot of coaches. According to her UNLV bio she’s named new coaches in men’s and women’s basketball, football, women’s soccer, softball and volleyball. She lured Marcus Arroyo, a hot head coaching candidate, away from Oregon where he was the defensive coordinator. She installed T.J. Otzelberger, and has since had to replace him after he took the job at Iowa State. Her next hire? Lon Kruger’s son, Kevin. Obviously the jury is still out on Kruger, and Otzelberger left before any success could be fully realized. But the hires show a boldness you want in an Athletic Director.

At a place like UNLV, you have to be bold to have success. And Missouri needs bold.

For a lot of hires in the past, Mizzou has largely been safe. Hiring a sitting power conference head coach, or a person with local or university ties. Jim Sterk was safe, Kim Anderson was safe, even Cuonzo Martin was safe. But the University’s best hires in recent years have been outside the box, Eli Drinkwitz and Larissa Anderson. Reed-Francois is much more in the mold of a daring, bold, outside the box hire. Not only breaking ground by being hispanic and female and being tapped to lead an SEC Athletic Department, but someone with virtually zero ties to Missouri and no experience running an AD at a Power Conference school.

I love this hire. I’ve long advocated for hiring more out of the box candidates, and fewer with ties to Missouri. I’m sure Wren Baker or Doug Gillin or Mark Alnutt would have all been solid hires and would have done good jobs. But Reed-Francois is a new set of eyes with a different perspective and could be exactly what Mizzou needs as it embarks on a new era of collegiate sports.