COLUMBIA, Mo. – University of Missouri athletic director Desiree Reed-Francis has left to take the same job at the University of Arizona.

Reed-Francis is a shocking loss for MU after less than three years at the helm of the athletic department.

In the year She has been widely credited with creating a buzz around Mizzou athletics since taking over in August 2021. Reed-Francis hired coaches such as Dennis Gates, Dawn Sullivan and Carrick Jackson, laid out a plan to renovate Memorial Stadium and made a record $62 million gift to the athletic department.

But recently, university leadership has established an oversight committee to oversee Mizzou athletics, which could lead to friction between Reed-Francois and top administrators.

She goes to Arizona, a school that is moving from the Pac-12 to the Big 12, which is also struggling financially. The switch from a rising Southeastern Conference program to one in need of a rebuild is surprising, but Reed-Francis graduated from Arizona Law School and has ties to Tucson.

Her salary there is said to be $1 million a year and will increase to $1.2 million in the fifth year of the new contract. That’s a decrease from the $1.25 million she was getting under her contract extension with MU.

Missouri is about to make a $2.5 million buyout.

Red-Francis A statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. “Leaving such an amazing fan base behind is not easy, but as I begin this new chapter back in my wardrobe, I will take with me the fond memories of our time together.”

She will start at Arizona on March 3, according to a news release from the Arizona athletic department.

“There are very few institutions that can convince me to come out of the SEC athletic department with a strong motivation,” she said in a statement released by Arizona. “The University of Arizona has tremendous potential and is an institution — and an athletic program — on the rise, and I want to be a part of shaping that future.”

Reed-Francis, the first woman to serve as Mizuho’s athletic director, led the department to a financial surplus and kept it at least in the black in the last fiscal year.

During her tenure, she fired men’s basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, who led the program back to the NCAA Tournament in his first season, before hiring Gates. Led by Eli Drinkwitz and prior to Reed-Francois’ arrival at Columbia, the football team finished the season ranked in the top 10 and won the Cotton Bowl.

Improvements to the fan experience at Memorial Stadium — plus the success of the football team — saw five consecutive sellouts in the 2023 season. As a result, Reed-Francis received preliminary approval to renovate the stadium’s north concourse.

In the year On February 8, the UM System’s Board of Regents established the Mizzou Intercollegiate Athletics Special Committee, tasked with overseeing the athletics department.

“Especially at this critical time in the evolution of key programs and major investments planned in MU athletics, accountability to the board and the state through this new committee is more important than ever,” the board’s oversight document explains. The committee.

In fiscal year 2023, after Mizzou ended athletics at $1,000, direct support from the university, in part by fixing the books, is a major concern of the committee. The new oversight group will “have the authority to access, monitor and collect all information the committee deems necessary to evaluate the athletics funding process, efforts and funding outcomes.”

Perhaps Reed-Francois’ top pick was Gates, who, despite his struggles this season, had success in his first season and earned a reputation as a good recruiter.

Gates congratulated Reed-Francis at his earlier scheduled Monday press conference, thanking her for the opportunity to coach at MU and her support. Reed-Francis was in Oxford, Mississippi for Saturday’s game with the men’s basketball team.

“I look at ADs that are supportive. We have one — and one — that was very supportive,” Gates said. “She’s been on the journey. That’s how I look at it. I don’t look at tomorrow and yesterday. Here we are today and we have a situation where we have the opening of the AD … You have to understand, we’re going to be involved in college athletics again (this is) a transition job.” You never know when opportunities will come. “

He advocated for Mizzou coaches, athletes and other administrators to continue the progress made under Reed-Francis in her absence.

“You don’t look back when someone is moving from one job to another,” Gates said. “She looks at the signs that are left behind, and she’s done a great job, and I hope everyone appreciates what she’s done and continues to make progress because everyone has to roll up their sleeves. The institution wasn’t built on one person’s back. It’s not just our fans, our tradition, our history, but our students. It’s also about our student-athletes.

This story is getting better and better.

UM System Mizzou Establishes Athletic Oversight Committee, Seeks Information and ‘Accountability’

Mizzou Athletics received a record $62 million in donations

Mizzou hoops assistant Dickie Nutt is undergoing cancer treatment.

Mizzou Athletics Generates Record Revenue Again. The department remains in the black – at $1.

The UM System Board of Supervisors has approved an architect for the renovation of Memorial Stadium

Ticket sales have increased since 2014, during Mizzou’s most sold-out football season for students.

Hockman: The desire to capture the Reed-Francis athletics program with creativity and hunger