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ASU ATHLETICS: Three potential candidates for Sun Devils’ athletic director

Arizona State University President Michael Crow will look to hire next athletic director

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Northern Arizona at Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ray Anderson’s nine years with Sun Devil athletics proved to be a critical time in the development of several programs as well as the decline in others. Major changes, regardless of who serves as athletic director is coming for ASU, and with Anderson nearing 70 years of age, he admitted his time was done.

The time has come for Arizona State to hire what will be the most important hire in modern ASU history. When one considers the positions many programs are in, the right hire could make the world of difference when moving into the new landscape that is the Big 12 Conference. With a larger paycheck coming in 2025, as well as significant booster support in the past few weeks, it’s time for university president Michael Crow and Arizona State to explore their options and make a splash in the athletic director market.

Here’s a look at some names ASU could entertain:

Graham Rossini

Graham Rossini is the current executive senior associate athletic director and chief business officer at ASU. Graham has been with Arizona State athletics since 2021, making this potential jump to athletic director a smooth transition as he is familiar with the current climate of Sun Devil athletics and improvements that need to be made.

Rossini is a sports administrator for baseball, hockey and volleyball here at ASU. Rossini was a part of the Big 12 transition team during the conference realignment period under Anderson.

Prior to ASU, Rossini served as vice president of special projects and fan engagement with the Arizona Diamondbacks. As a 13-year veteran in professional sports, Rossini certainly checks boxes in terms of captivating a fanbase. Rossini’s work with the Diamondbacks included Chase Field playing host to the 2011 All-Star Game, 2013 and 2023 World Baseball Classic as well as efforts for the opening of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

Washington Nationals v Arizona Diamondbacks
Graham Rossini spent 13 years with the Arizona Diamondbacks as vice president of special projects and fan engagement.
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Rossini graduated in 2002 from ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business with a B.S. and later retuned for a MBA in 2011.

For more information about Graham Rossini, visit Sun Devil Athletics .

Greg Bryne

Another Arizona State alum is head of one of the largest athletic programs in the country in Alabama. Bryne became athletic director for the Crimson Tide in 2017, since then making notable upgrades to facilities, coaching staff and community engagement, not to mention Alabama’s leading NIL movements and unrivaled competition and support in virtually every colligate sport.

Bryne also serves on numerous boards and committee’s outside of the college sector, including: United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee Collegiate Advisory Council, NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee, National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches Coalition Academy and president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics in 2020.

Arkansas v Alabama
Athletic Director and ASU Alum Greg Byne has helped turn Alabama football into a modern college football mecca.
Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images

Prior to Bryne’s work at Alabama, he was athletic director at Mississippi State and Arizona, proving his worth in experience at the highest levels at three different programs. In the ever changing world of NIL, Bryne certainly knows the ins and outs.

Bryne graduated from Arizona State in 1994 from W.P. Carey and went on to work at the Fiesta Bowl from 1994-95.

Although Bryne is a graduate of ASU, it is unlikely he has a desire to leave one of the nations premier athletic department's given his situation and amount of success. The director of athletics position at Alabama puts Bryne in a position that is unlike any in the country, and his job with the Crimson Tide seems to be stable for the time being.

For more information about Greg Bryne, visit University of Alabama Athletics .

Rocky Harris

Rocky Harris is the current United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee as the chief of sport and athlete services and served as CEO of USA Triathlon for five years.

But before getting involved heavily in olympics and and triathlon, Harris was chief operating officer at Arizona State athletics from 2012-2017. In 2017 Harris was named to Sports Business Journal’s “Forty under 40”, a designation that helped Harris land such a large role with USA Triathlon, and later with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

Upon Anderson’s resignation, Harris’ name shot to the top of seemingly every social media post as the fan favorite.

Harris has deep ties to ASU; his grandfather worked at ASU, his father was on the swim and dive team and both parents earned undergrad and graduate degrees from ASU. Harris graduated from Arizona State with a B.A. in communications in 2000. He clearly ‘bleeds maroon and gold’.

The quest for the next athletic director will be a decision spearheaded by Crow, with the decision having widespread affects on not only the athletic department, but the university as a whole. It is unknown when a decision will be made, but the right one will be necessary for the advancement of ASU athletics as college sports continues to evolve.