Updated April 30, 2021 - 4:33 pm
UNLV took a step Friday to establish stability after years of turnover in the highest levels of its athletic department, extending athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois’ contract by four years.
The new deal, which takes her through June 30, 2026, comes with a base salary increase to $420,000, up from $350,000.
“I am very appreciative of President (Keith) Whitfield’s faith and support in me and in the direction of our department,” Reed-Francois said in a statement. “I would also like to thank our coaches and staff. Without their hard work, talent and expertise, our success wouldn’t be possible. It has been a fast four years and while there is more work ahead of us, we are very optimistic for the future. We want the transformation of UNLV athletics to be sustaining and long-term and we are headed in that direction.”
Should Reed-Francois, 48, fulfill her contract, she would be UNLV’s longest-tenured athletic director since Brad Rothermel in 1981-90. Since then, UNLV has hired eight athletic directors, including Reed-Francois, whose term began in June 1, 2017.
Her extension is particularly timely for men’s basketball coach Kevin Kruger and football coach Marcus Arroyo. Kruger will be entering his first season after a major roster overhaul, and Arroyo will enter his first complete season after going 0-6 in a COVID-interrupted inaugural campaign. Their rebuilding comes under the athletic director who hired them.
She has hired seven head coaches overall, and UNLV has won conference championships in women’s basketball, men’s and women’s golf, women’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming, indoor track and volleyball under her watch.
UNLV athletes have put together an average GPA of 3.0 or greater for seven consecutive semesters.
“Under Desiree’s focused leadership, our student-athletes are performing better than ever in the classroom, the culture is one of integrity and professionalism, and she’s driving innovation in marketing, fundraising, and the overall fan experience,” Whitfield said in a statement. “As a seasoned administrator, Desiree puts student-athletes first in all of the department’s decision-making, she understands all aspects of university athletics, and has the experience we need to successfully navigate a critical time for the program and the university.
“This extension provides continuity for UNLV athletics as we emerge from the pandemic and provides her with the runway to continue her vision.”
UNLV’s longest-tenured ADs
Michael “Chub” Drakulich, 1958-72
Brad Rothermel, 1981-90
Bill Ireland, 1973-80
Mike Hamrick, 2003-09
Charles Cavagnaro, 1995-2001