The University of Arizona has hired Desire Reed-Francois as its new athletic director, the school announced Monday.

Reed-Francois has been the athletic director at the University of Missouri since 2021. Before that, she served as athletic director at UNLV. She earned her law degree from UArizona in 1997.

Reed-Francois will officially take over in Tucson on March 3. She will become the first woman to take over the Arizona Athletic Director role full-time; Rocky LaRose and Erika Barnes previously stepped into the role in an acting or interim basis.

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Desire to the University of Arizona family, and we could not be more excited about the leadership experience and outstanding credentials she brings,” President Robert Robbins said in a news release. “Respected nationally for her commitment to student-athletes, Desire has a history of success everywhere she’s served and is exactly the right person we need to modernize our athletics operations and usher in an ongoing culture of success in all aspects of Athletics. This is a tremendous win for our university and I cannot wait for her to get started.”

Reed-Francois takes over for interim AD Mike Candrea, who stepped in after Dave Heeke was dismissed and left the athletic director role earlier this month.

The move comes as the university as a whole navigates a $177 million budget deficit and several changes meant to cut costs and increase revenue.

When it comes to financial savvy, UArizona’s news release says, “Reed-Francois brings proven business expertise and financial acumen to the Director of Athletics position. She is an accomplished fundraiser and relationship builder and has transformed two collegiate athletic departments into high-performing, cost-effective operations.”

Her five-year contract includes “an annual base salary of $1 million in year one elevating to $1.2 million in year five, with an additional $250,000 annual contribution from the University of Arizona Foundation.”

Reed-Francois is scheduled to be introduced at a press conference on campus on Tuesday morning.