Desiree Reed-Francois will become the new University of Nevada, Las Vegas athletics director on June 1 and is the first Hispanic female athletics director at the FBS level.
Reed-Francois has over two decades of leadership experience as an athlete, attorney and athletics administrator and is considered one of the industry’s rising stars.
At UNLV, she will oversee all aspects of the athletics program, including general operations, fiscal affairs, facilities, strategic planning and external relations.
“There’s a great sense of enthusiasm and momentum in the community and at UNLV, and I’m honored to join this university and work with our coaches, staff and student-athletes to build on the solid foundation in place,” said Reed-Francois. “College athletics have the unique ability to educate, unite and inspire. Together, we will do all of that at UNLV and build a championship culture that leads academically and athletically.”
Reed-Francois served as second-in-command to the athletics director at Virginia Tech and was responsible for external relations and day-to-day operations for 22 sports, over 600 student-athletes and 14 facilities. An administrator with an eye toward balancing the complex external and internal facets of a Power Five athletics department, she partnered on budget development for all athletics units at Virginia Tech, prepared the department’s facilities master plan, redesigned fundraising strategy and revitalized the university’s student-athlete success program.
Under her leadership, overall ticket, marketing and licensing revenue rose over 20 percent the past two years and the institution secured the largest corporate development gifts in program history. This included a season ticket sellout for football and marked attendance increases in men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, soccer and softball. She was one of just four women in the nation responsible for day-to-day operations of a Power Five football program and helped orchestrate the most-attended football game in history in 2016 when Virginia Tech and Tennessee met in front of over 156,000 fans at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“Desiree has tremendous depth of experience at the highest levels of college athletics and a clear vision for the future of Rebel athletics, and I couldn’t be more pleased to welcome her to UNLV,” said UNLV President Len Jessup. “She has shown the ability to manage the complex internal demands of a large Power Five athletics department while simultaneously energizing fans and supporters in all sports, and I’m confident she’ll successfully move UNLV athletics forward.”
A former student-athlete at UCLA (rowing), Reed-Francois is a strong advocate for student-athletes and understands the importance of leadership development and mentorship in ensuring their future success.
“Leadership development is at the core of college athletics, and it’s important that we create an environment leading to opportunities to positively impact lives and develop leaders in our student-athletes, our coaches and our staff,” said Reed-Francois.
She has also worked at the University of Tennessee where she was the first female in SEC history to oversee men’s basketball as well as worked at Fresno State, Santa Clara, San Jose State, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of San Francisco. Prior to that, she was a practicing lawyer and also spent time as a legal associate for the Oakland Raiders and the NFL’s Management Council.
Reed-Francois earned a bachelor’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles and a juris doctorate from the University of Arizona College of Law. She is very involved in athletics administration at the national level, participating in the Division 1 Athletics Directors Leadership Institute and Fellows Program, the Women Leaders in College Sports’ Executive Institute and as a member of the College Football Playoff Committee’s operations committee.
But she also makes time for her family; her husband Joshua and son Jackson. It is an exciting time for UNLV with the addition of Desiree Reed-Francois.