Controversial Reign of Arizona State AD Ends in Resignation

Tabatha Wethal Headshot
Arizona State Sun Devils

Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson has resigned with three years left on his contract. The university confirmed the resignation in a news release Monday, saying the resignation is effective immediately.

Anderson had been head of the ASU athletic department since 2014 but has been under fire since the hiring of Herm Edwards went terribly wrong, the Arizona Republic reported. The two have worked together for years, as Anderson served as Edwards' agent in his NFL-playing days.

Edwards' reign as ASU football coach ended amid an NCAA investigation into recruiting allegations, which has yet to be resolved. ASU fired Edwards in September 2022

Anderson said in a statement that he considered it a privilege to have been the university's AD for nine years.

Related: ASU Defends Self-Imposed Postseason Ban in Light of Ongoing NCAA Investigation

"We have entered an unprecedented era where the number and magnitude of changes in the college sports landscape are astounding," Anderson said in the statement, as reported by the Arizona Republic. "As I approach my seventh decade of life, these are not matters that my leadership would be able to corral during my tenure. Continuity of leadership will be needed, and I am choosing to step aside to let the university find that leader."

With a base salary of $950,000 plus bonuses for things such as academic progress rates of each team that enhanced his salary considerably, Anderson was one of the highest-paid athletic directors in the country, according to the Arizona Republic report. 

Anderson will still be a professor of practice and senior adviser for the sports law and business program at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. 

Anderson's last public appearance was Saturday. He was on the sideline at the Rose Bowl where the Sun Devils beat UCLA, 17-7.

In ASU's news release, the university said that Jim Rund, ASU senior vice president for educational outreach and student services, will serve as interim athletic director. In 2013, Rund was the interim athletic director following the departure of Steve Patterson to the University of Texas.

Anderson's resignation comes ahead of ASU making the transition from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 conference next year. Anderson and ASU president Michael Crow tried to keep the Pac-12 together and had always been strong advocates of the conference until it no longer was viable.

The Republic reported that Anderson's departure comes as the ASU football program is working to recover from problems left behind by Edwards, who was hired in December 2017 as head coach.

Edwards parted ways with the program three games into the 2022 season and left with the cloud of an NCAA investigation into recruiting violations hanging over the program. Rather than fire Edwards, the school gave him a $4.4 million buyout, which upset school supporters, given the NCAA issue.

ASU also announced a self-imposed bowl ban in August — four days before the season opener against Southern Utah — a move that blindsided head football coach Kenny Dillingham and put this year's team at a disadvantage before it had even kicked off. The school could have done that last season but didn't. The Republic reported that opting for the bowl ban this year penalizes a coaching staff and roster made up of mostly newcomers who had nothing to do with the past program.

The fan base has been so vocal about Anderson's role in the Edwards saga that many have expressed reluctance to attend games or donate to NIL collectives until Anderson was out. The Sun Devils are behind other conference peers when it comes to the NIL collectives, which are run independently from the athletic department, the Republic reported. The season will be over by the end of the month and the transfer portal will be open with ASU having some athletes good enough to draw lucrative offers from other schools. 

Page 1 of 64
Next Page
Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2023 in Baltimore
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Nov 1-4, 2023
Learn More
AB Show 2023