Arizona State introduced their new Vice President for Athletics/Athletic Director Ray Anderson late last week. Anderson, a former two-sport athlete at Stanford, comes to ASU from the NFL where he served as the executive vice president of football operations. He replaces Steve Patterson who took the AD job at the University of Texas in November.
Sports360AZ.com’s Brad Cesmat caught up with Anderson for an extended interview. Below are five questions, five answers from their conversation.
1. With Sun Devil Stadium and the facilities upgrade possibilities do you view this exciting opportunity for you? “It is a time of real progress, innovation moving forward with the new stadium but it’s also [a time] to reach back and really appreciate that tradition and history of ASU, football in particular. Blend those things together and take us to an elite level…that’s the absolute goal. Those things Brad, are what led me to really want to pursue this opportunity aggressively.”
2. Why did you leave the NFL for college? “The NFL is an absolutely incredible place to work. It’s got a great brand but in my job, what I was going, it did not offer the opportunity to work in the academic community with student-athletes who are going to come up and not necessarily play in the NFL or the NBA or go on the women’s circuit in golf or tennis but come up to be our community leaders and be our business leaders…to have that component was so intriguing and interesting to me that made leaving the NFL…an easy decision.”
3. What did the NFL teach you and prepare you for in this position? “If there’s one thing Commissioner [Roger] Goodell implores us all to do is to understand that the status-quo is not our option. We have to strive to get better. We have to constantly strive to be creative and be innovative. Not just in terms of revenue streams and new opportunities but in terms of player health and safety, etc. So the quality of never being satisfied is what I want to bring to my work here and this culture. Know that that doesn’t exist here already but to make that an emphasis everyday. We have a responsibility to get a little better in everything we do.”
4. The NFL has a global vision. Can you take college athletics global, as well? “Well, in the NFL it’s a goal to global with our sport, our business model, our product. It’s not necessary, in college athletics in my opinion, to physically be there but to have an impact there because you can take our game on so many platforms now through the internet, the web site and mobile devices so let’s be able to have our product available in terms of vision but more important have the component of what we’re doing as a university.”
5. How are you going to move the Sun Devil Stadium renovation project forward? “That also was one of the exciting parts of taking this job. I mean I’ve been in the NFL and seen new stadiums and big renovation projects coming through and while I don’t have the expertise to lead those initiatives, I’ve been in rooms and really appreciated the skill sets and the expertise necessary…to be able to go out and sell and market and help financially get support for the program. One of the questions I had during the interview process is, ‘are we committed?’ That will push this program forward, push this university forward, push this community forward in terms of economic impact. I was assured it is happening. [The renovation] is going to happen Brad and it’s going to be spectacular.”