The University of Nevada Las Vegas has announced that sports lawyer Desiree Reed-Francois will become its new 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, 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,” said Reed-Francois. “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.”
Reed-Francois 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.
Prior to Virginia Tech, Reed-Francois spent two years at the University of Cincinnati as senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator. There, she was a member of the executive staff whose duties included external affairs, sport oversight, and negotiation of the university’s contract with the Cincinnati Bengals for use of Paul Brown Stadium during a campus stadium renovation.
She has worked at the University of Tennessee — where she was the first female in SEC history to oversee men’s basketball — as well as Fresno State, Santa Clara, San Jose State, the University of California-Berkeley and the University of San Francisco. Prior to that, she was a practicing lawyer, and also spent time as a legal associate for the Oakland Raiders and the NFL’s Management Council.
Jeff Birren, former general counsel of the Raiders and a frequent contributor to Hackney Publications, remembers Reed-Francois well. “I have known Desiree since her internship with the Raiders in 1995,” he told Sports Litigation Alert. “I knew then that she would go far, so I am not surprised at this new ‘first’ for her.”
Reed-Francois earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a juris doctorate from the University of Arizona College of Law. She is heavily involved in athletics administration at the national level, participating in the Division 1 Athletics Directors Leadership Institute and Fellows Program, the Women Leaders in College Sports’ Executive Institute and as a member of the College Football Playoff Committee’s operations committee.