Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

February 25, 2014


Host: Ted Simons

New ASU Athletic Director


  • Arizona State University has a new Athletic Director. Former NFL executive Ray Anderson was named the new AD earlier this year, and will talk about his new role and vision for ASU athletics.
Guests:
  • Ray Anderson - Athletic Director, Arizona State University
Category: Sports   |   Keywords: sports, asu, athletics, director, new, nfl,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Well, former NFL executive Ray Anderson was named ASU's new Athletic Director earlier this year. He replaced Steve Patterson, who took a position at the University of Texas. Joining us now to talk about his job and vision for ASU Athletics is Ray Anderson.

Ray Anderson: It's good to be here.

Ted Simons: Before we get going, what does an anesthetic do?

Ray Anderson: In this day and age, he or she does more than in the days gone by, certainly, you want to take care of the needs of your student athletes, and you hopefully are, are emphasizing the student part of that component. But, you have donor relationships, and you have alumni relationships, and you have faculty relationships, and you have business and revenue generation responsibilities, and that's become a bigger part of this modern day Athletic Director position.

Ted Simons: How do you balance the dynamics, student Athletics with fundraising? You have a stadium renovation project going, and you have athletic district, 300 some odd acres out there, and how do you balance and where do you find that?

Ray Anderson: You better have a good teammate and sports, which we do. And we'll get more of that as time goes on. But, you can't expect to do it individually. It's got to be a collaborative team effort by folks across the University, including the folks in development, folks in sponsorship, folks in marketing, and folks in academia, who are supporting you, as well as the administrator in the athletic department who can keep us focused on what we are supposed to be doing for our student athletes while we are doing the business ventures.

Ted Simons: What is the status of the stadium project? Where are we?

Ray Anderson: We are still in discussions. We have had meetings -- I've been in my first couple of meetings this week getting briefed on where we are, and there is still a ways to go, but one thing that we are doing now is fundraising. Getting folks who, who participate and see the vision and be prepared to, you know, to write some checks, who will support the division, and we are off to a pretty good start in that regard.

Ted Simons: Is there a concrete vision? Are there plans? Can you say, here's what it is going to look like, or is that still to be determined?

Ray Anderson: Conceptually, if you go on the website, there is a peace called a fly-through, and it's a momentum. And it's a really quite impressive piece with a voiceover that talks about what, what the vision is, and how it conceptually could look, and that's where we are, but have we gotten to the point where we have plans firmly on the paper right now? No, but we're closer to that.

Ted Simons: Status of the athletic district? What are we talking about?

Ray Anderson: You are talking about, about an opportunity to, to do commercial support for a lot of things University related, but primarily, the athletic department, so if it's mixed use, if it's residential, if it's restaurants and, and establishments, if it's office space where, where that development where the dollars that are generated from that, can at least help to support Athletics and the other expenditures to benefit the University and also benefiting the community, economic impact, bringing in jobs and making that a vibrant use of land over there.

Ted Simons: I know you've been asked this a million times, let's make it a million and one. You are the second most powerful in the guy, executive Vice President of the NFL. And you left. Why?

Ray Anderson: Well, you know, those who say that I was the second most powerful, some of my colleagues back there, who do the revenue generation and, and would maybe argue with you. But, for me, it was the opportunity to come here with, with a University led by a President who has a vision for making this an elite program, to come back to the student athlete environment where I was fortunate enough to have been a student athlete playing football and baseball, and enjoyed the academic part of it and be able to come back and really kind of be able to be part of that. Hopefully, be an impact and an influence to let these young student athletes know that if you do it correctly, you can have success, but focus on the academic part of it, to come back to an environment where I can be part of that, that was just an unbelievable.

Ted Simons: Even though, the NFL is, is the most powerful professional sports franchise, entity in the world, and you were very, very -- was it getting to be a -- you had the concussion issues, you had the official strike. You probably are constantly dealing with fines and all of this stuff. Was it getting to be a bit of a drag?

Ray Anderson: You know what, Ted, you hit it on the head. My job over time had evolved into really more of a dispute resolution position because of the things you are talking about. And after a while, that does wear on you, and this gave me an opportunity to, essentially, to be in the creative, the people relationship, the, the mentoring, the positive things that an institution like this brings. So this was a, a, a fresh start to be more involved in that type of thing as opposed to despite resolution all the time. That -- you are perceptive there.

Ted Simons: And again, now, you went to Stanford, graduated from Harvard Law School. And those are very traditional schools. When you heard about ASU, and Doctor Crow talked to you about his vision of ASU, did it sound like the old-time University, or did it sound like something new was going on?

Ray Anderson: Something new was going on, and not new because over the last ten dozen years, this University has -- is, has really tried to rid itself of that moniker that it was a party school, and the academic standing of this University, if you take the time to really look, and I was fortunate enough to do that, has really elevated, and so the combination of saying no, no, we're going to be an academic institution that also plays elite Athletics, let's blend that together, and that's exciting, so this is, this is not the, the party school that folks way back in the day may have thought. We're going to be an elite academic, that I can institution am we said it out loud, and the coach and I met this afternoon, and we repeated the vow, we want to be elite. And we want to be top five, not just in Athletics, but in academics with our student athletes across sports.

Ted Simons: A school that might have recruited Anderson when he was younger, and Ray Anderson might have looked, instead of Stanford to ASU, talk to us. You played football and baseball at Stanford, but before that, and you've been an attorney, you've been a sports agent, and obviously, an executive with the NFL. There is a great story about you and your dad and how your dad -- he died when you were still young, but he still really shaped your life, didn't he?

Ray Anderson: Yeah, my dad died suddenly of a heart attack when I was nine. But to that point, he and I were buddies, and he would talk about how he had wanted to be a lawyer. Kept a couple of those thick blue and green bound law books in our den, and I would see him flipping through those, and we would watch Perry Mason, remember the show? You may be too young to remember.

Ted Simons: Oh, no.

Ray Anderson: And I didn’t really understand what a lawyer was, but I knew that my dad had always wanted to be one. When he died, it just became my calling. I just had determined that day that I want to be a lawyer even though I didn't understand what it was, but, I had teachers and coaches who quickly understood that that's what I wanted to be, and so, they told me and taught me about what it meant to do that, and that whole experience kind of shaped my life, but it was my father who pointed the lawyer part of -- the vision early in life.

Ted Simons: Were there any times when you were stuck there in the law library, and you are looking to say, you have two more and then four more years, and gee, thanks, dad, maybe I can try something else?

Ray Anderson: Never vacillated.

Ted Simons: Interesting.

Ray Anderson: Never vacillated. But, there certainly was that time when I, for the first time, I passed my bar exam in Georgia. I set up, in the room, after having been sworn in, and thanked my dad and cried quietly as I wanted to believe that he was proud of me.

Ted Simons: You have done so much with your life, and you kind of have done different things. Have you ever stayed, you haven't stayed in one spot too long. The ASU athletic directors seem to want to get out of here as soon as they get good footing, what about you?

Ray Anderson: I come from some good jobs, and in fact, some people think that I'm crazy because I left a really good job. So, I came here because I wanted to be here, because this was the right combination of things for me. I'm here for, for the duration. This is my destination, as I have said, and I expect to be here for a long time. And certainly as long as my boss will have me.

Ted Simons: And you said some folks thought that you were crazy. Did you get a bit -- what are you doing or how about the family?

Ray Anderson: My wife has seen me take a couple of crazy moves, and a lot of times, I have come home and said, oh, by the way I'm taking a 50% pay cut, so she is kind -- has dealt with me over the years, but when she knows my vision, she knows my passion, and she knows my love for the student athlete environment, and she couldn't be happier. My family couldn't be more happy for me and for us collectively to come here and really be able to make an impact and enjoy this environment. And we're going to do it very much so.

Ted Simons: Well, welcome to Arizona, and welcome to ASU, and thank you very much for joining us.

Ray Anderson: My pleasure, Ted, and good to meet you.

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