Ray Anderson, executive vice president of football operations for the National Football League (NFL), has been named Arizona State University (ASU) athletic director and university vice president, it was announced today (January 9, 2014) by ASU President Michael M. Crow.
Anderson, who has been managing the NFL's football operations department since 2006, joined the NFL after serving as the vice president of the Atlanta Falcons. He began his professional career as an attorney at Kilpatrick & Cody in Atlanta, Georgia and worked primarily in labor law litigation.
“At ASU we have three priorities for our athletic director,” said Crow, “help our student-athletes maximize their academic achievement and ensure they graduate on time; win; and win within the rules. Ray has the skills, experience and enthusiasm to accomplish those goals. Under his leadership, ASU student-athletes will continue to perform at the highest level both on the field and in the classroom. Ray will also play an important role in the university’s campaign to improve and expand its sports facilities through the development of the ASU Athletic Facilities District.”
“In evaluating the next step in my career, I could not imagine a better, more exciting opportunity,” said Anderson. “I am thrilled to become part of the team at Arizona State and energized by the academic and athletic mission of this great university. I am eagerly looking forward to the challenge of not only continuing the success of Arizona State athletics but also building on it to accomplish even more in line with President Crow’s priorities.”
Approximately 500 ASU students participate in 22 varsity sports. The football team is ranked in the top 25 teams nationally as is the women’s basketball team, and the men’s basketball team began its season 12-3. The combined performance of all ASU varsity teams ranks in the top of the National Director’s Cup competition year after year.
ASU has an 82% graduation success rate for its student-athletes, which is 4th best in the Pac-12. ASU ranks 2nd in the Pac-12 for most Academic All Americans since 2000 and 3rd for most Academic All Americans in the history of the conference.
The Athletic Facilities District, along the Rio Salado, will be home to an exciting mixed-use development that will help fund the renovation or rebuilding of several of the university’s athletic facilities, including Sun Devil Stadium, transforming the area into a major amateur sports destination.
A Los Angeles, California native, Anderson earned a BA in political science from Stanford in 1976 and a juris doctorate degree from Harvard Law School in 1979. He was an all-league high school quarterback and shortstop, and a three-year football letterman and two-year baseball letterman at Stanford.
Anderson co-founded the sports law practice at Heller, Ehrman, a prominent San Francisco firm, in 1980 and entered the sports agency business in 1984 when he opened the West Coast office for Sports Advisors Group. In 1987, he launched his own agency, AR Sports, specializing in the representation of NFL coaches and players and later adding Major League Baseball players. Anderson merged his agency with Octagon in 2001.
As an indication of the high regard in which Anderson is held, he was appointed to the NFL Committee on Workplace Diversity and was named to Sports Illustrated’s list of the "101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports." He was also named to the prestigious "100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc.", a group dedicated to providing support and improving the quality of life for African-Americans, and to the Board of Governors of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.
He and his wife, Buffie, have one son, Bryant, and one daughter, Kimberly.
Comments from Sun Devil Coaches
"I am very impressed with the hire of Ray Anderson as our Vice President for University Athletics. Ray has a unique blend of professional experiences and that will serve him well at ASU. I especially like the fact that he has a football background, both as a player and as a professional in the marketplace. I'm anxious for him to get started so that we can continue the momentum that we have built over the past 18 months."
"We look forward to working with Ray, who has worked in athletics at the highest level and been a part of arguably the strongest brand in sports. He competed in our conference, grew up in Pac-12 territory and has an incredible amount of experience."
Charli Turner Thorne
“I am ecstatic about Ray Anderson as our choice for Athletic Director. He has a wonderful blend of collegiate experience and business acumen. I am very confident he will provide leadership that our student-athletes, coaches and community will benefit from greatly. It seems like a great fit for him to come home to his West Coast roots.”