Ray Anderson was named Arizona State University’s Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics Director on Jan. 9, 2014, and has quickly begun to redefine the collegiate athletics landscape over the course of his tenure at ASU.
Anderson was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential Minorities in Sports in February 2016, noting that he had “helped position the Sun Devils as one of the most innovative brands in college sports”.
While national trends lean toward downsizing athletics departments and eliminating non-revenue generating sporting programs, Anderson has made it his mission to not only add NCAA Division I sports at Arizona State, but expand educational and scholarship opportunities for future Sun Devil student- athletes.
In May 2016, Sun Devil Athletics announced the reinstatement of the men’s tennis program at Arizona State – an act made possible through a $1M lead gift from Anderson himself and his wife, Buffie. This came just a month after Sun Devil Athletics announced a strategic alliance with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) to leverage the resources of a research-based University to grow the sport of tennis locally, nationally and globally.
Anderson has also clearly defined his expectations for Arizona State to be nationally competitive in all 26 varsity programs, and has parlayed this vision into a number of world-class head-coaching hires unseen at the collegiate level, including USA Swimming Coach Bob Bowman, a hall of famer and mentor to the world’s most decorated Olympian, to head up the men and women’s swimming program, Zeke Jones, USA Wrestling’s National Freestyle Coach, to take over the wrestling program, Bobby Hurley, one of the most decorated college basketball players in history, to coach the men’s basketball program, Tracy Smith, a two-time conference coach of the year and experienced fundraiser, to revitalize the baseball program, Matt Hill, a three-time coach of the year with experience at three different Top 25 programs, to lead the reinstated men’s tennis program and Matt Thurmond, the 2009 National Coach of the Year who coached and seven-time national Top-10 finisher, to take over ASU’s surging men’s golf program.
Anderson joined the Sun Devil Family after serving as the executive vice president of football operations for the National Football League (NFL) since August 2006.
“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.”
He served as the executive vice president and chief administrative officer of the Atlanta Falcons for four years, and began his professional career as an attorney at Kilpatrick & Cody in Atlanta, Georgia, where he worked primarily in labor law litigation.
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.
In April 2014 it was announced that Anderson would be a professor of practice in ASU’s new sports law and business program, a collaboration of the highly ranked Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and W. P. Carey School of Business.
He and his wife, Buffie, have one son, Bryant, and one daughter, Kimberly.