UNLV announced today that Desiree Reed-Francois will be the next athletic director.
She will take over on June 1, which is one month earlier than the original timeline that saw current athletic director, Tina Kunzer-Murphy, stepping down on June 30.
Reed-Francois comes to UNLV from Virginia Tech, where she was the deputy athletic director since 2014. She was also a senior associate athletic director at Cincinnati and has worked at Tennessee, Cal, Fresno State, San Jose State and UC Santa Barbra.
“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,” said Reed-Francois in a statement. “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.”
The UNLV job comes with a lot of challenges. Reed-Francois will inherit a budget deficit approaching $5 million largely due to a shortage of ticket sales in men’s basketball. The Runnin’ Rebels average attendance has fallen every season since 2012-13 from 15,196 to 10,406.
- 2016-17: 10,406
- 2015-16: 11,542
- 2014-15: 11,757
- 2013-14: 13,125
- 2012-13: 15,196
UNLV just wrapped the first year of the Marvin Menzies era that resulted in the worst winning percentage in program history at 11-21. And while expectations are high for UNLV football under Tony Sanchez, the Rebels are just 7-17 in his two seasons.
Reed-Francois will be hampered by long contracts if she wants to make a change at either coaching spots. Tony Sanchez was recently given a raise and extension through the 2021 season, and Marvin Menzies is onboard through the 2020-21 season.
Per Mark Anderson, Reed-Francois will make $350,000 per season and will be under contract for one year longer—2022—than her football and basketball coaches.
One benefit she will have over her predecessor is the ability to control UNLV’s facilities in the Thomas & Mack Center and Sam Boyd Stadium. Currently, that falls under the Department of Finance and Business at UNLV. With full control over the facilities, Reed-Francois may be able to turn around that deficit sooner.