Desiree Reed-Francois selected to lead UNLV Athletics

UNLV President Len Jessup announced today that Desiree Reed-Francois has agreed to terms and will become the university’s athletics director, effective June 1.

Reed-Francois, current deputy athletics director at Virginia Tech, has more than 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. She will become the first Hispanic female athletics director at the FBS level.

“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,” Reed-Francois said. “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.”

She served as second-in-command to the athletics director at Virginia Tech since 2014 and was responsible for external relations and day-to-day operations for 22 sports, more than 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, Reed-Francois 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 by more than 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 more than 156,000 fans at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Working closely with Virginia Tech athletics director Whit Babcock, Reed-Francois was instrumental in the recruitment and hiring of current Hokies head football coach Justin Fuente (the reigning ACC Coach of the Year) and coaches for women’s basketball and lacrosse – all of which recently enjoyed or are in the midst of stellar seasons. She also led the search for recently hired first-year volleyball coach Jill Lytle Wilson.

Reed-Francois and husband Joshua have a son, Jackson.

Read the full UNLV release by clicking here.

What Hokies Are Saying About Desiree Reed-Francois

“Desiree did an outstanding job at Virginia Tech. She made us better in so many ways, and she will be missed. However, I am extremely happy and excited for her, Josh and Jackson to have such a wonderful opportunity at UNLV. It’s a great fit all around! Desiree is ready and prepared to be an elite athletics director. I am very confident the department and program will grow and prosper under her direction and vision. She is a leader who cares deeply about students, her staff and the fan experience.

“Desiree is also an innovator who develops and invests in her staff. Her drive and work ethic are simply incredible. Above all else, she believes in a creating a championship culture across the board and winning with integrity. The future is very bright at UNLV under her leadership.”

Whit Babcock

Virginia Tech Director of Athletics

“UNLV is very fortunate that they’re getting a very competent and accomplished administrator in Desiree Reed-Francois. She’s simply a class act. I really thought she did a fabulous job in her role at Virginia Tech. She’s an innovator who cares deeply about student-athletes and empowering members of her teams to be successful.”

Frank Beamer

Former Virginia Tech Head Football Coach

College Football Playoff Selection Committee Member

“UNLV is gaining a tremendous asset to their university and their athletics department in Desiree Reed-Francois. Desiree’s leadership will strengthen the UNLV brand, as she embraces its many positives, while challenging coaches, student-athletes and the entire athletics staff to strive for even loftier heights. She possesses a diverse range of talents and experience that will serve her well at UNLV. I will forever appreciate her unwavering support, her willingness to listen and uncanny ability to get things done to help our program and our student-athletes.”

Justin Fuente

Head Football Coach

Virginia Tech

“It isn’t known yet, but I think UNLV has hired a star. Desiree has taken great pride in her preparation for this day over the last two decades, and I think everyone connected to the athletics department, no matter the type of connection, will see that as time transpires. Her character, leadership and work ethic will not only change the trajectory of the department, but will have an impact within the institution and the city. We will miss her greatly!”

Buzz Williams

Head Men’s Basketball Coach

Virginia Tech

“I couldn’t be happier for Desiree and her family. She’s such a classy lady who has represented Virginia Tech so well. We’re going to miss her leadership and warm smile in Blacksburg, but we’ll be pulling for her in her new role at UNLV. Desiree will be a great asset for their program.”

Bruce Smith

Virginia Tech Alum

Pro Football Hall of Fame 2009

“Becoming the new AD at UNLV is a great opportunity for this hardworking intelligent leader to further exercise her strong management and organizational skills. During her time at Virginia Tech, Desiree has made great contributions that have benefitted our student-athletes. Besides providing her outstanding administrative and legal talents, she has led the development of promotional programs that have helped to personalize the student athlete in the university community. It will be challenging to find a replacement who incorporates all of her skills and energy.”

Joseph Tront

Virginia Tech Faculty Representative to the NCAA/ACC

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