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New ASU Athletic Director Excites International Group of Community Leaders

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Summer is usually a slow time around the Arizona State University (ASU); one can even easily find a space in the Fulton Building garage. But the energy and crowd noise was high as 90 people crowded into the Trophy Room of the Karsten Golf Club to meet Ray Anderson, the new ASU Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics Director on June 24, 2014. The reception was hosted by Linking Sports & Communities (LSC), an Arizona-based non-profit, which encourages student athletes to stay in school, lead healthy styles and be financially responsible.

Anderson has a broad and impressive resume. A Stanford and Harvard Law School graduate, he has been a lawyer, sports agent and Vice-President of the Atlanta Falcons. He most recently spent eight years as the NFL's Senior Vice President of Football Operations.

The attendees represented a wide cross-section of Arizonans. Of course, there were athletes, such as former Phoenix Sun Joe Courtney who just published a new book; government officials, like Phoenix Councilman Jim Waring; youth groups, like Future for Kids; and many private business people and entrepreneurs. A delegation of young African leaders, who are ASU Washington Fellows, visiting Arizona this summer, were warmly welcomed by the crowd.

It was fitting that Anderson was meeting with such a diverse group. He was a member of the NFL Committee on Workforce Diversity. He said one of things that attracted him to ASU was its openness in accepting students and, thus, being the largest public university.

Anderson also said that inclusiveness is a major part of his vision for ASU Athletics. He mentioned the need for being more global in our perspectives about sports and students. At the same time, he stressed the need for developing and retaining local talents, and not letting our best students be recruited elsewhere. Inclusiveness also means paying attention to more sports, e.g., Anderson mentioned ASU’s growing strength in wrestling. In response to a question from one of the ASU Fellows—Lois Atua from Nigeria—he also described his initiative to get ASU more involved with Paralympic sports. Anderson impressed the crowd with his warmth, wit and attentiveness, and seemed impressed and touched by the enthusiastic reception.

“For the past decade, LSC has been enhancing the relationship among athletes, sports organizations, and the community, “ said the LSC Founder Denise Meridith. “This exciting community welcome for Ray Anderson helps advance this mission.”