LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — UNLV has extended the contract of Director of Athletics Desiree Reed-Francois, university president Keith E. Whitfield announced today. Reed-Francois, who joined UNLV in 2017, received a four-year extension with revised terms that will run through June 30, 2026.
“Under Desiree’s focused leadership, our student-athletes are performing better than ever in the classroom, the culture is one of integrity and professionalism, and she’s driving innovation in marketing, fundraising, and the overall fan experience,” said President Whitfield. “As a seasoned administrator, Desiree puts student-athletes first in all of the department’s decision-making, she understands all aspects of university athletics, and has the experience we need to successfully navigate a critical time for the program and the university. This extension provides continuity for UNLV Athletics as we emerge from the pandemic and provides her with the runway to continue her vision.”
Reed-Francois oversees all aspects of the UNLV athletics program, including general operations, fiscal affairs, facilities, strategic planning, fundraising, and external relations. Since her arrival on campus, she has transformed UNLV Athletics by developing a long-term strategic vision for success and emphasizing student-athlete welfare.
The first Hispanic female and woman of color to serve as athletics director at the FBS level, Reed-Francois was instrumental in installing a new student-athlete focused model with collectively established core values. UNLV student-athletes are achieving higher Academic Progress Rate scores from the NCAA and have set numerous academic records, including seven-straight semesters with a collective grade point average of at least 3.0.
“I am very appreciative of President Whitfield’s faith and support in me and in the direction of our department,” said Reed-Francois. “I would also like to thank our coaches and staff. Without their hard work, talent and expertise, our success wouldn’t be possible. It has been a fast four years and while there is more work ahead of us, we are very optimistic for the future. We want the transformation of UNLV Athletics to be sustaining and long-term and we are headed in that direction.”
Reed-Francois has hired seven head coaches at UNLV, with multiple recognized as the conference Coach of the Year. During her tenure, UNLV has won conference championships in women’s basketball, men’s and women’s golf, women’s tennis, men’s and women’s swimming, women’s indoor track & field, and women’s volleyball. UNLV has also won each of the last three Silver State Series titles in the annual competition with its in-state rival. She has assembled the most diverse head coaching roster in the Mountain West Conference and among the most diverse in the nation.
Under Reed-Francois’ leadership, UNLV Athletics launched a student-athlete career initiative, which has increased student-athlete post-graduate employment by nearly 50% to a high of 75%. In addition, the last four years of fundraising have been among the most successful in UNLV Athletics’ history, including the highest annual fund total, the largest corporate financial commitment to UNLV Athletics and the department’s largest-ever estate gift.
Strengthening operations and marketing have also been points of emphasis for UNLV Athletics under Reed-Francois. Over the past three years, she has worked to balance the program budget and instituted a new administrative structure. She also has led a multitude of facility upgrade projects, was instrumental in opening up the new Allegiant Stadium, the on-campus Fertitta Football Complex, and helped to double the UNLV football season ticket base. In addition, a new Center for Student-Athlete Excellence is moving through the planning stages. The department has also instituted new mental health and nutrition programs and added its first full-time psychologist and first full-time nutritionist.
Reed-Francois came to UNLV in April 2017 with more than two decades of experience in athletics administration, including senior leadership positions at Virginia Tech and the University of Cincinnati. Before working in college athletics, Reed-Francois was a practicing lawyer and also spent time with the Oakland Raiders and the NFL’s Management Council. She currently serves as a member of the NCAA Division I Baseball Selection Committee and the Board of the National Coalition of Minority Football Coaches.