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Mizzou Athletic Director Desireé Reed-Francois departs for University of Arizona

Desiree Reed-Francois
Posted at 12:52 PM, Feb 19, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — University of Missouri Athletic Director Desireé Reed-Francois is departing the "Show-Me State" for the University of Arizona.

Arizona President Robert C. Robbins announced Monday that Reed-Francois will take over as athletic director starting March 3, pending approval from the Arizona Board of Regents.

This marks a return to Tucson, Arizona, for Reed-Francois, who graduated from Arizona law school in 1997.

"Leaving behind such an amazing fan base is not easy, but as I embark on this new chapter back to my alma mater, I carry with me cherished memories of our time together," Reed-Francois said in a statement announcing her departure on social media.

Robbins stated that Reed-Francois, 51, will "modernize" Arizona's athletics operations and spur "a culture of success."

Reed-Francois agreed to a five-year contract with the Wildcats. Her base salary will begin at $1 million and escalate to $1.2 million by the end of the contract along with a $250,000 contribution from the University of Arizona Foundation each year.

Additional incentives will be available to Reed-Francois based on the Wildcats' academic and athletic achievements and through retention bonuses after her fourth and fifth years with Arizona.

With the University of Missouri, Reed-Francois made $1.65 million, after accounting for deferred compensation and annual benchmarks.

Reed-Francois, a native of Fremont, California, joined Mizzou in 2021 after four seasons as the athletic director for the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

She started her career in collegiate athletic administration at the University of California at Berkeley in 1997 and remained on the West Coast with stops at San Jose State, Santa Clara, Fresno State and San Francisco before becoming the associate athletic director at Tennessee in 2008.

Reed-Francois later spent time at Cincinnati and Virginia Tech before taking the reins of the Rebels' athletic department and eventually joining the Tigers.

Her son Jackson Francois is currently a sophomore on the Mizzou basketball team.

In the absence of Reed-Francois, Marcy Girton will step into the role of interim AD.

The university shared Girton has over 30 years of experience in college athletics, half of which she's spent with the Southeastern Conference, as an athlete, coach and administrator.

"Mizzou Athletics has a loyal and strong fan base and great momentum moving forward. The search for a permanent athletics director will begin immediately," MU shared in a news release.