Arizona State AD search: Six candidates to watch for the Sun Devils

Arizona State AD search: Six candidates to watch for the Sun Devils

Arizona State’s ongoing search for an athletic director is unlike any comparable endeavors across college sports because of five letters: WWMCD.

What will Michael Crow do?

Arizona’s State president prides himself on innovation and, to his eternal credit, has enhanced ASU’s brand across higher education.

His decisions on the athletic front, on the other hand, have been more than a tad misguided.

Will the man who supported former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, who continually sung the praises of the Pac-12 Networks, who signed off on hiring Herm Edwards and the ‘New Leadership Model’ and allowed former athletic director Ray Anderson to remain on the job beyond a reasonable (and unreasonable) timeframe — will that same university president make a smart, rational hire?

If you can answer that, stop reading this column and go buy a Powerball ticket.

Here are six ADs to watch (alphabetical by last name):

Connecticut’s David Benedict: Community engagement was one of ASU’s primary shortcomings under the Anderson regime. If the Sun Devils want to turn that weakness into a strength, Benedict has the qualifications: He grew up in Tempe and served as ASU’s associate athletic director development (i.e., donor relations) 20 years ago under former AD Gene Smith. Which means he knows the terrain, and he knows Crow.

Washington State’s Pat Chun: Truth be told, Chun is highly qualified for the vacancies in both Tempe and Tucson. He’s well versed in maximizing every penny, has impressive fundraising chops — he worked for Gene Smith at Ohio State — and is well connected across the industry. Chun also served on the NCAA’s transformation committee and would be an ideal candidate to steer ASU into the next era of college sports. The Sun Devils were slow to react under Anderson. Chun would be one step ahead.

USOC’s Rocky Harris: Why would the Chief of Sport and Athlete Services of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee be qualified for, and interested in, running a college athletic department that’s facing major NCAA sanctions? Put it this way: Harris’ handle on Twitter/X is @SunDevilRocky. He grew up in Tempe, graduated from ASU and worked in the athletic department (under Anderson) before leaving for the Olympic sports realm.

Fresno State’s Terry Tumey: The former UCLA defensive lineman has compiled a well-rounded resume with administrative stops in the NFL (49ers) and in both California university systems (Fresno State and UC Davis). He also has a master’s degree (from UCLA) and gave Kalen DeBoer his first head coaching job (at Fresno State). If the Sun Devils prioritize helping Kenny Dillingham rebuild the program and build out their NIL game, Tumey warrants serious consideration.

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San Diego State’s JD Wicker: ASU needs the most inside-the-box hire possible, someone with a lifetime of experience in college sports and contacts across the country. Wicker, who has worked for Washington State and Georgia — to name two stops — fits the model. And his success leading a department at a large state school in a pro sports metropolis would translate well to ASU, which faces many of the same challenges as SDSU.

Candidate X: This final spot on our list is reserved for the nameless, faceless candidate so far outside the box that he/she would be an outlandish, inconceivable hire for any other school. But with Michael Crow, you simply never know.

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