TUCSON, Ariz. – Former Arizona Athletics Directors Kathleen "Rocky" LaRose and Cedric Dempsey have been retained by the University of Arizona to assist with the ongoing athletics director search, UA President Ann Weaver Hart announced on Monday. They will work with Hart on replacing Greg Byrne, who recently accepted the athletic directorship at the University of Alabama.
LaRose, Arizona's acting athletics director from December 2009 to April 2010 as part of her 35-year UA career, will serve as senior adviser to the president for the entire intercollegiate athletics department's transition to the new athletics director and will assist Hart in candidate evaluation. Dempsey, who served as athletics director for the Wildcats from 1982 through 1993, will help identify potential candidates. Senior Associate Athletics Director Erika Barnes is the interim vice president of intercollegiate athletics and AD during the search process.
"As we move through the transition to a new athletics director, it will be advantageous to call upon the knowledge and experience of Rocky and Cedric, two of the best collegiate administrators in NCAA history," Hart said. "Arizona Athletics is poised for success now and into the future. Given the familiarity these two highly respected individuals have with both UA athletics and our place on the national stage of intercollegiate athletics, this ensures we will find the best possible candidates. I'm excited about this opportunity and look forward to working through the process of identifying and hiring Arizona's next athletics director."
LaRose retired as deputy director of athletics in 2013. As deputy director, LaRose oversaw the internal operations of all 20 sports at the UA, and became the first woman in history to have day-to-day operational responsibilities over Division I football and men's basketball programs. A three-time vice president of the Pac-12 Conference, LaRose served on various Pac-12 and NCAA committees. She also developed the groundbreaking C.A.T.S. Life Skills program for student-athletes, which was later adopted by the NCAA for its entire membership. LaRose is a former student-athlete, having played softball at the UA.
Dempsey, who served as NCAA president from 1994-2003, oversaw one of the most successful periods in Arizona Athletics history. He hired legendary coaches Frank Busch, Mike Candrea, Lute Olson, Dave Rubio and Dick Tomey, while Arizona's baseball, men's golf and softball programs won national titles. Starting in 1985, the athletics department produced a budget surplus each year under Dempsey's leadership. In addition to Dempsey's time with the NCAA and Arizona, he also served as athletics director at Pacific, San Diego State and Houston.
Arizona Athletics has consistently been one of the nation's top athletics departments and returned to the Learfield Directors' Cup Top 25 following the 2015-2016 season. Over the program's history, Arizona has won 21 team national championships, 203 individual national championships and 125 conference championships, while producing 1,612 All-Americans, 94 Academic All-Americans and 122 Olympians.
*Courtesy of Arizona Athletics