Love, who was named ASU's 21st Athletic Director, has been the senior associate athletics director at the University of Southern California since 2002 and serves on the NCAA Management Council. She has been the vice president of the Pac-10 conference on two occasions (1992 - 1993 and 2001 - 2002). Love holds a bachelor's degree in physical education from Texas Tech University, where she was an all-region performer on the volleyball team. She earned a master's degree in education administration from the University of North Texas.
Crow indicated that through out the search he identified Love as his prime candidate for the Athletic Director position. "Lisa was our first choice," said Crow. "Lisa is our best choice. She's the best candidate for this job that we found after looking across the entire country. Lisa has the energy, competitiveness and drive to move ASU's Athletic Department into the next level. Her philosophy for success will be instrumental in building ASU's Athletic Department through student achievement, community engagement and winning."
"She's first and foremost a master teacher," Crow continued. "20 years experience as a very successful coach. She's an individual who has committed her life to the development of student-athletes. She distinguished herself as an administrator in a very complex and active athletic program in the city of Los Angeles. Out of the people we met there was one individual who stood out with the combination of skills – master teacher, thinker, high energy, total commitment and focus on both academic and athletic excellence. When we talked to people about who would be the leader of their next great generation of Athletic Directors, Lisa's name was consistently the name that people referred to."
"I'm smiling as big on the inside as I am on the outside," said Love after being introduced by Dr. Crow. "I'm absolutely honored and thrilled to be a Sun Devil. I cannot wait to start. I'm impressed with the foundation that these extremely talented individuals at Arizona State have accomplished. I enjoyed my 15 years at the University of Southern California, but now all I'm thinking is Maroon and Gold. I'm committed to making Arizona State University consistently a nationally elite athletic program that just takes names and wins championships."
Love knows that she can be considered somewhat of a pioneer, being that she's a rare female Athletic Director, but she says the vision of the individual is more important than their gender. "I understand that the leadership positions in the world of athletics, especially in Division-I programs, are very male dominant," she said. "It was never about gender. It was about getting an edge, and if someone thought I was brining something to the table they weren't concerned that I wore a skirt. That's the kind of environment I've been around. I never felt dismissed, patronized or anything to that nature. I certainly get that impression from the Sun Devils. They're concerned about winning and I'm all about that."
In regard to the manner in which she administers, Love explained that there's one guiding concept she follows. "I collaborate aggressively," she explained. "But it's clearly stated goals, stated mission…Let's face it - there's nothing passive about competitive athletics. It's all about the scoreboard. Aggression is part of it, and you work with coaches with winning personalities that don't shy away from that."
Among the many factors that attracted her to her new position, Love admitted that being in the Pac-10 as long as she has contributed greatly to her comfort level. "Being aquatinted with Arizona State as a competitor, I felt like I knew most of the staff, what they stood for, and I know that one of those areas is continuation and a solid foundation to keep this thing going forward," Love stated. "Certainly, knowing what I knew about Arizona State, the fabulous facilities, this beautiful community that's growing by leaps and bounds…this is a climate and an environment in which there's no reason that you cannot explode with success, and I'm committed to that."
Another area of familiarity for Love, is coming for a school that much like ASU, is located in a big metropolitan that has many professional sports competing with the local University. How does she approach this issue? "I think that has to do with marketing and putting people in the stands," she commented. "Putting a product on the floor that makes people take their disposable income and buy a ticket to a Sun Devil event. I understand all the professional sports that are going on in Phoenix and that's very much like Los Angeles. It's a front runner town and competing for the dollar and putting people in the Coliseum was always a chore from the very beginning."
Speaking of chores, what does Love view as her biggest challenge? "The frustrating thing for me is that I can't learn fast enough," she said. "I want to learn all things Sun Devil and I want to learn that yesterday. I want to know the heritage, the politics. The challenges over the months to come will obviously reveal themselves, but my challenge right now is quick study, learn fast, let's get the information and let's go."
Born and raised in Texas, no one has to acquaint Love with the sport of football and its impact on an Athletic Department. "The reputation is that there's two sports there – football and spring football," she quipped. "I have two sisters, and my father was a high school quarterback. Who was going to be his wide receivers in the back yard every day? That was me and my three sisters and we were his wide receivers. I grew up wit the love of football, I know how to run a post-pattern, but I don't think coach Koetter is going to recruit me (smile). I have a great passion for the sport coming from Texas. I look forward to talking shop with coach Koetter. It's critical that we win football games and fill Sun Devil stadium for the bottom line. That's an expectation of success. The community in Phoenix just lights up because of the way the Sun Devils play football. That's clearly one of the revenue streams to our bottom line success."
The exchange of friendly words between USC, Love's old employer, and ASU has already begun. "I told Coach Carroll that we were gonna beat him and to fasten his seat belt."
Dr. Crow granted Love a five-year contract, and he expressed his desire to have a long sitting Athletic Director at the school. "I'm interested in a professional who would dig in here, and not move from job to job looking for whatever that job to job hunt might have to offer," he explained. "Dig in here and stay here for a long time and make things happen. That's a part of a next generation Athletic Director. That's the building of stability - where coaches and Athletic Directors don't lead lives that are peripatetic to the extreme." Crow added that various incentives would make it lucrative for Love to remain in Tempe.
Love will officially begin her duties on July 1st but she admitted she'll start racking up quite a few frequent flyer miles in the weeks to come. "I'll be back and forth many times from L.A. to Phoenix," she said. "That's the overlap period where I can connect with the ICA staff, get going, and get my feet on the ground. I'm anxious, so I guess it (the number of times coming to Tempe) will probably be higher than lower."
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