Missouri’s new athletic director on Wednesday promised to help build a championship culture at the school that will prioritize its athletes while also winning championships in the Southeastern Conference.
Desiree Reed-Francois said during a news conference that she expects a strong work ethic and high accountability from everyone in the athletic department, including herself.
“We want to graduate leaders with a meaningful career path,” she said. “We’re going to relentlessly compete and we’re going to win SCC championships. We’re going to serve as a point of pride and unity for our entire global Mizzou community.”
Reed-Francois comes to the university from UNLV, where she was athletic director since 2017. She previously oversaw day-to-day operations of the football program at Virginia Tech and was lead administrator of the men’s basketball program at Tennessee.
Reed praised the people she worked with at UNLV and said she believed the school has momentum toward greatness. The people and the atmosphere at Missouri drew her away from UNLV, she said.
Reed-Francois was hired less than two weeks after Jim Sterk stepped down as Missouri athletic director.
University President Mun Choi said the search committee quickly saw Reed-Francois as “the best person for the job, period.”
“She’s going to be making some deep but necessary changes, so business as usual goes out the window with our new athletic director,” Choi said. “She’s going to bring that culture of winning back to Mizzou.”
Reed-Francois is the first female and first Hispanic athletic director at Missouri. She is the second woman hired as an athletic director in the SEC, after Candice Storey Lee was named AD at Vanderbilt last year.
In response to a question, Reed-Francois said she looks forward to the day when people don’t ask about women becoming the first in any job — sports or otherwise.
“I understand the importance of context though, and I understand my responsibility,” she said. “I have a responsibility to do great work because I want to serve the University of Missouri but I also want to keep that door open.”