The long awaited move came earlier today, as Arizona State finally relieved Lisa Love of her duties as Vice President of Athletics.
The move comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed the decline of the program. While sports such as track and field and softball have flourished, the major cornerstones of any major university's athletic department--football and men's basketball--have floundered. Toss in NCAA sanctions for baseball, mind-boggling contract extensions, alumni and booster unrest, and discord in the administration, and it paints an unflattering picture of Love's seven years in Tempe.
But taking away all the subjective notions that characterized her tenure, which began on April 23rd, 2005, some key numbers illustrate an inarguable point that removing Love was the right call.
Let's begin with the cornerstone indicator: the football program. There is no disguising the fact that the team has been a gross underachiever under her watch. In seven years, the number of fired coaches (two) is double the amount of top three conference finishes.
ASU Football's Conference Rankings: Average Finish: 5th
2005: 4th - tied
2006: 5th - tied
2007: 1st - tied
2011: 6th - tied
In a fair-weather market like Phoenix, wins are absolutely essential to put fans in the seats. As the figures illustrate, Love and the football program often hosted thousands of empty seats.
ASU Football Attendance (Per Game) - Sun Devil Stadium capacity: 71,706
2005: 61,118 (85.2% of capacity)
2006: 54,561 (76.1 % of capacity)
2007: 62,875 (87.7 % of capacity)
2008: 63,658 (88.8% of capacity)
2009: 48,556 (67.7 % of capacity)
2010: 47,493 (66.2 % of capacity)
2011: 59,007 (82.3% of capacity)
Now to the hardwood. It's a great thing that James Harden called Tempe home for two years, because other than the 2008-2009 seasons, Sun Devil basketball has languished near the bottom of the conference.
ASU Basketball's Conference Rankings: Average Finish 7th
If you had to get some work done and needed some peace and quiet, Wells Fargo Arena during a men's basketball game was a good option. Fans stayed away in droves, as their fatigue from losing season after losing season showed up in ticket sales.
ASU Basketball Attendance (Per Game) - Wells Fargo Arena capacity: 10,754 (2010-present), 13,947 (2007-2010), 14,198 (1997-2007)
2005: 8,510 (60.0 % of capacity)
2006: 6,731 (47.4 % of capacity)
2007: 6,931 (48.8% of capacity)
2008: 8,008 (57.4% of capacity)
2009: 9,354 (67.0 % of capacity)
2010: 7,523 (70.0% of capacity)
2011: 6,772 (63.0 % of capacity)
Now let's move to a more strategic view. The Directors' Cup is an award presented annually the by National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics to the college or university with the most success athletically. The program factors in all sports and all seasons, and while not a completely accurate portrayal, it still is a solid measure of how a school and administration stacks up, or in ASU's case, how they are faltering down the standings.
ASU's Ranking in the Directors' Cup
2011-2012 (through fall and partial spring seasons only): 42nd
Her time wan't a total failure, as the Sun Devils hoisted seven national titles. Unfortunately, they all came in sports that a great number of ASU fans may not have even realized were champions. This may be fine for some small New England colleges, but truth be told, if the success isn't consistently found on the hardwood or gridiron, then it's a failure for an athletic department in this day and age.
National Championships Under Love
2007 Women's indoor track & field
2007 Women's outdoor track & field
2008 Women's indoor track & field
2008 Men's indoor track & field
2009 Women's golf
These are the kind of numbers that have kept ASU, the "sleeping giant" of college sports as many have said, passed out on the floor for the better part of a decade.
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