UNLV Hires FBS-First Female Hispanic Athletic Director

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The Roanoke Times (Virginia)


BLACKSBURG â€” Whit Babcock 's right-hand woman is off to run her own athletic department.

Desiree Reed-Francois, who served as the No. 2 official in the Virginia Tech athletic department for the past three years, was officially named UNLV's new athletic director on Monday.

She'll be formally introduced at a news conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday and will start her new duties June 1. She will succeed Tina Kunzer-Murphy, who is stepping down as AD in June to work for the UNLV Foundation.

Reed-Francois agreed to a five-year deal worth $350,000 annually, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Reed-Francois, 44, becomes the first Hispanic female athletic director at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

"There's a great sense of enthusiasm and momentum in the community and at UNLV, and I'm honored to join this university and work with our coaches, staff, and student-athletes to build on the solid foundation in place," Reed-Francois said in a UNLV news release. "College athletics have the unique ability to educate, unite, and inspire. Together, we will do all of that at UNLV and build a championship culture that leads academically and athletically."

Reed-Francois has twice served as Babcock's top lieutenant, first for two years at Cincinnati, where she served briefly as the school's interim athletic director in 2014 when Babcock left for Virginia Tech.

She followed him to Tech soon thereafter. She first served as Tech's executive associate athletic director before being named deputy athletic director last year. She was responsible for external relations, as well as the day-to-day operations for Tech's 22 sports. Her departure leaves Virginia Tech with a major hole to fill in its athletic administration.

Reed-Francois had a hand in budget development, the program's facilities master plan, fundraising and hiring. She helped recruit football coach Justin Fuente to Blacksburg and led the searches for women's lacrosse coach John Sung and women's volleyball coach Jill Lytle Wilson.

"Desiree did an outstanding job at Virginia Tech," Babcock said in a release. "She made us better in so many ways, and she will be missed. However, I am extremely happy and excited for her. ... Desiree is ready and prepared to be an elite athletics director. I am very confident the department and program will grow and prosper under her direction and vision. She is a leader who cares deeply about students, her staff and the fan experience."

She'll be returning to her Western roots. The Fremont, California, native is a 1994 graduate of UCLA, where she also was a rower, and earned a law degree at Arizona. Before getting into athletics, she was a practicing lawyer who spent time as a legal associate for the Oakland Raiders and the NFL's Management Council.

She's spent 19 years in athletics administration, with positions at California, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Fresno State, San Francisco and Tennessee, where she was the first woman to oversee a men's basketball team.

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April 18, 2017


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