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UNLV offers AD job to Virginia Tech official

Updated April 14, 2017 - 11:31 pm

Virginia Tech deputy athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois has been offered UNLV’s AD position and was close to finalizing a deal Friday with the university, according to multiple sources close to the situation.

Reed-Francois interviewed for the opening last weekend in Salt Lake City, according to a source. The source added that she made a strong impression on the search committee and blew away the field.

The sources declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak about the hiring.

The 17-member search committee, led by Nancy Rapoport, special counsel to UNLV president Len Jessup, was let go Monday, according to a source. UNLV is expected to make the announcement early next week if negotiations with Reed-Francois don’t stall.

Reed-Francois, 45, replaces Tina Kunzer-Murphy, becoming the second female athletic director in the school’s history. Kunzer-Murphy’s contract expires June 30, but she will remain with the university, moving to the UNLV Foundation.

Reed-Francois served as an interim athletic director at Cincinnati in 2014 for five months, making her the first Hispanic female interim AD at the FBS level. She joined Virginia Tech in May 2014 as the executive associate athletic director and senior woman administrator before being promoted to second in command a year ago.

A native of Fremont, California, and a 1994 UCLA graduate, Reed-Francois oversaw the football programs at Cincinnati and Virginia Tech, and was involved in hiring Hokies football coach Justin Fuente to succeed Frank Beamer in 2015.

“I lean on her for advice and counsel often, and she is an executive leader of our department in her own right,” Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said of Reed-Francois on her bio page at HokieSports.com. “She has my trust and respect. She does a wonderful job for the Hokies.

“She has made a very positive impact on our department and our student-athletes, while strengthening our relationships on campus and across the country. We are very fortunate that Desiree is leading so many aspects of our team at Virginia Tech.”

Reed-Francois also was Babcock’s No. 2 in command at Cincinnati.

The former rower at UCLA has made stops at California, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Fresno State and the University of San Francisco. Before that, Reed-Francois was a legal associate for the Oakland Raiders and served in a similar position with the NFL’s Management Council.

Reed-Francois has had two issues as athletic manager: She had a falling out with former Fresno State volleyball coach Lindy Vivas in 2004. Vivas told The Fresno Bee that Reed-Francois would undermine her and had secret meetings with one of her volleyball players. Also, during Reed-Francois’ time with the Tennessee athletic department, where she was an associate AD from 2008 to 2013, longtime swim coach John Trembley was fired by the university in 2012 for using his school email to exchange sexually explicit messages.

Reed-Francois won over the search committee because of her ability to market and raise funds, and her vast experience in many areas. One source said she checked off a lot of boxes with her leadership qualities, law degree, hiring of coaches and NFL experience.

During the past week, she has followed numerous UNLV officials, coaches and Las Vegas media on Twitter, showing she has a sudden interest in Rebels sports.

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0492. Follow @gmanzano24 on Twitter.

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