University of Arizona

Desiree Reed-Francois
Director of Athletics

Desiree Reed-Francois

Veteran college athletics administrator Desireé Reed-Francois was appointed Vice President and Director of Athletics at the University of Arizona on February 19, 2024 following her three-year term as the Director of Athletics at the University of Missouri. Reed-Francois is Arizona’s first-ever fulltime female athletic director and 11th overall in school history. She brought proven business expertise and financial acumen to the Director of Athletics position. Reed-Francois is an accomplished fundraiser and relationship builder and has transformed two collegiate athletic departments into high-performing, cost-effective operations. She also has deep ties to the University of Arizona, where she earned her juris doctorate from the James E. Rogers College of Law in 1997.

“There are very few institutions that would entice me to leave an SEC athletics department with strong momentum,” said Reed-Francois. “The University of Arizona has tremendous potential and is an institution — and an athletics program — on the rise, and I want to be a part of shaping that future. We will provide a world-class student-athlete experience, which includes competing for championships and being among the nation’s elite. I am grateful to President Robbins and the Arizona Board of Regents for this incredible opportunity.”

Reed-Francois has served as the Director of Athletics at the University of Missouri since 2021, raising the athletics program’s profile over the past several years to include a top-10 football program, postseason berths across multiple sports, and enhancements to student-athlete welfare and support. In addition to hiring six head coaches, she has overseen the department’s first budget surplus in six years; record-breaking successes in fundraising, including securing the largest gift in Missouri Athletics history of $62 million; five straight semesters of record student-athlete GPAs; attendance growth in football and basketball; the opening of the Stephens Indoor Football Practice Center; significant upgrades to the game-day experience for fans; the growth of the Missouri brand across the state and country; and implementation of innovative Name Image Likeness (NIL) initiatives.

The football team earned three bowl bids, including the program’s first New Year’s Six game – a 2023 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Championship – and finished the 2023 regular season ranked No. 9 in all three major polls while signing highly touted recruiting classes. Head Coach Eliah Drinkwitz was named 2023 SEC Coach of the Year, RB Cody Schrader was a Consensus All-America choice and won the 2023 Burlsworth Trophy as the nation’s best former walk-on. Multiple players earned All-America and All-SEC honors.

Among her other successes Missouri; the hirings of Dennis Gates –  Whitten Family Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Dawn Sullivan – head volleyball coach, Kerrick Jackson – head baseball coach, Bianca Turati – head tennis coach, Glen Millican – head men’s golf coach and Caroline Westrup – head women’s golf coach;, dozens of enhancements to the game-day fan experience; the implementation of Black & Gold Fridays across the state; a 152% growth in Tiger Scholarship Fund membership; a retooling of the Tigers’ NIL program and the creation of the 24-stop Come HOME Tour which covered more than 7,500 miles.

In 2022-2023, men’s basketball posted its highest win total since the 2013-14 campaign and was ranked No. 23 in the final Associated Press poll of the regular season for the first time since 2012. Men’s golf grabbed its first NCAA Regional bid since 2018, gymnastics placed in the Top 10 at the 2022 NCAA Championship and softball hosted an NCAA Regional for the second-straight season.

Academically, the Tigers posted a cumulative grade point average of 3.35 in spring 2023 – topping the previous record for any semester of 3.32, set in the fall 2022. In 2022-23, six sports programs posted perfect NCAA Academic Progress Rate scores and all 18 programs scored above a 965 for the first time since 2012-13, with 16 teams registering a score above 980. Two teams recorded their best APR score since the first release in 2004 as the Mizzou football program registered a 989 (27 points ahead of the national football average of 962) and men’s track posted a 991.

Reed-Francois led Mizzou to its first budget surplus in six years, in part due to innovative revenue-generating ideas including the enhancement and expansion of an in-house ticket sales team with a focus on group and student-ticket sales, the reintroduction of block seating at football games, and a complete retooling of the gameday and in-game experience at football and men’s basketball games. The Tiger Scholarship Fund raised over $41 million in Fiscal Year 2022, the fourth-most productive year in TSF history and the highest total in a year that did not contain a capital campaign.

Prior to her tenure in Columbia, Reed-Francois served as the Director of Athletics at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (2017-2021), revitalizing the department. During her time with the Rebels, she completed or implemented more than $70 million in facility upgrades; hired seven head coaches, including three who earned conference Coach of the Year honors early in their tenures; oversaw the completion and opening of a $35 million on-campus football training complex; and successfully negotiated a joint-use agreement with the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders with the opening of the new $2 billion Allegiant Stadium.

Prior to ascending to the director’s chair, Reed-Francois served several institutions in leadership roles, including as the Deputy Athletics Director at Virginia Tech, as a Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of Cincinnati and as the Senior Associate Athletics Director at the University of Tennessee. Additionally, she has worked at Fresno State University, Santa Clara University, San Jose State University, the University of California Berkeley and the University of San Francisco. She also has experience at the professional levels, working with the then Oakland Raiders and the National Football League Management Council.

She is the Vice Chair of the Lead1 Board of Directors and serves on the organization’s executive committee, as well as on the boards of Women Leaders in College Sports, the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches. Reed-Francois recently served as Vice Chair of the NCAA Baseball Selection Committee and formerly was a member of the College Football Playoff Committee’s operations committee. In addition, she is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators and has been a presenter at NACDA, NACMA, Women Leaders in College Sports, and Sports Business Journal’s annual conventions.

Reed-Francois earned a Bachelor’s Degree from UCLA and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arizona College of Law. She is a member of the State Bar of California and taught law classes at the University of Tennessee and at Santa Clara University. Prior to her work in college athletics, Reed-Francois worked as a legal associate for the Oakland Raiders and the NFL’s Management Council.

A former rowing student-athlete at UCLA, Reed-Francois was also the first female athletic director in Mizzou’s history, the first female athletic director in a public institution in the SEC and was the first Hispanic female and woman of color athletics director at the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) level.

She and her husband, Josh Francois, have a son, Jackson, who is currently a sophomore on the men’s basketball team at the University of Missouri.