Mizzou announces contract extension for AD Reed-Francois

Desireé Reed-Francois has been transforming Mizzou Athletics in every way: from department culture to the student-athlete experience; from facility enhancements to fundraising; and from community engagement to the fan experience.

Desireé Reed-Francois
Desireé Reed-Francois

April 6, 2023
Contact: Uriah Orland, 573-882-6212, uriah.orland@missouri.edu

The University of Missouri Board of Curators voted unanimously in a recent meeting to approve a one-year extension of the contract of Director of Athletics Desireé Reed-Francois, through June 30, 2028. 

“When Desireé was hired, we wanted someone who had a vision of Mizzou Athletics as a place where fans and student-athletes have an amazing experience, citizens are proud of the program, and we compete for championships. She is making that happen,” said Michael Williams, chair of the UM Board of Curators. “In less than two years, Mizzou’s fans are excited and breaking attendance records in many of our sports. It’s amazing to see how her leadership has brought our student-athletes, our fans and our broader university community together.” 

Since her appointment in August 2021, Reed-Francois has been transforming Mizzou Athletics in every way: from department culture to the student-athlete experience; from facility enhancements to fundraising; and from community engagement to the fan experience.  

“Through her innovation and tireless work, AD Reed-Francois has transformed Mizzou Athletics. She is building a championship culture that we have been seeking,” said Mun Choi, president of the University of Missouri. “Her devotion to our student-athletes and coaches is unsurpassed. We look forward to incredible successes under her leadership.” 

“I'm extremely appreciative of the support and investment in athletics from our Board of Curators and President Choi,” Reed-Francois said. “This is a reflection of the incredible work of our team over the last eighteen months, along with the dedication of a passionate fan base. It is an honor to serve our state's flagship institution and our 550 student-athletes as we strive for excellence and continue building on the great momentum surrounding Mizzou Athletics.” 

Among her accomplishments in her tenure so far: the construction of the Stephens Indoor Practice Facility for football; the hirings of Dennis Gates as the new Whitten Family Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Dawn Sullivan in Volleyball and Caroline Westrup in women’s golf; dozens of enhancements to the game-day fan experience; the implementation of Black & Gold Fridays across the state; a retooling of the Tigers’ NIL program; and the creation of the 24-stop Come HOME Tour that covered more than 7,500 miles. 

The wrestling program, anchored by two-time national champion Keegan O’Toole, won a pair of conference titles and had back-to-back top 10 placings at the NCAA Championship. The football team earned two bowl bids while signing highly touted recruiting classes. Men’s basketball posted its highest win total since the 2013-14 campaign, Men’s golf grabbed its first NCAA Regional bid since 2018, gymnastics placed in the top 10 at the 2022 NCAA Championship and softball hosted an NCAA Regional for the second-straight season.  

Academically, the Tigers’ student-athletes posted a record GPA in Fall 2021 and recently surpassed it with a 3.32 GPA in Fall 2022. Nine sports programs recorded their highest-ever GPAs in the fall semester. Mizzou increased its graduation success rate to 86, with 10 programs showing growth in the NCAA metric and four – women’s golf, gymnastics, women’s swimming and diving, and tennis – posting perfect scores.  

Reed-Francois led Mizzou to its first budget surplus in six years, in part due to innovative revenue-generating ideas including the enhancement and expansion of an in-house ticket sales team with a focus on group and student-ticket sales, the reintroduction of block seating at football games, and a complete retooling of the gameday and in-game experience at football and men’s basketball games. 

The Tigers featured impressive attendance growth in men’s basketball, football and in the number of student all-sport passes. Men’s basketball’s average attendance rose 62.6% in 2022-23, which led the nation’s power conferences, and football’s 17% growth topped the Southeastern Conference. A record number of 9,000-plus student all-sport passes were sold, which led to a 37% increase in student attendance. 

The Tiger Scholarship Fund raised over $41 million in Fiscal Year 2022, the fourth-most productive year in TSF history and the highest total in a year that did not contain a capital campaign. 

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