, 2023-04-13 09:00:00,
Slightly more than 610 days have passed since Desiree Reed-Francois was hired to replace Jim Sterk as the Athletic Director at the University of Missouri. Here’s a short list of things that have happened in that time:
- The Tokyo Summer Olympics were played in the late summer of 2021. Remember that? I don’t!
- COVID-19 was fixed and then not fixed and then fixed again, but then Omicron happened and now it’s still not fixed but we’re all OK with it? I don’t know, epidemiology news is tough to track.
- Will Smith hit Chris Rock in the face on live television, and Chris Rock responded in a very non-Chris-Rock way by being completely silent for the better portion of a year.
The point of listing those out is not to imply DRF is somehow responsible for these global events — though can we ever truly prove we’re not all indirectly responsible for anything? — rather to point out the passing of time and how quickly things seem to be moving. Reed-Francois has been with Mizzou for less than two years, but it feels much longer than that.
Maybe it’s because, in her short tenure, DRF has already proven to be an adept culture maker. While the transition hasn’t always been smooth, Mizzou Athletics under DRF has taken a noticeable upturn. Or, at the very least, we’ve all become more aware that maybe things aren’t always so bad.
The top-of-mind issue is, obviously, the revival of Mizzou Basketball, which can be directly traced to Reed-Francois’s work. After moving on from Cuonzo Martin, DRF led the hiring process of Dennis Gates, a move that was met with a collective shrug by large portions of the fanbase. I don’t need to remind you how it’s being talked about now. That one factor alone would’ve been enough to secure her recent contract extension.
But it sort of feels like the overall vibe feels a little rosier, right? Non-revenue sports are humming along: Wrestling continues to be a national powerhouse and All-American factory; gymnastics just wrapped up its second consecutive trip deep into the postseason and brings in a Top 10 recruiting class for 2024; men’s swim and dive finished tied for 16th in the NCAA’s and was ranked No. 23 in the country at season’s end; hell, even the cheer squads and disc golf teams are out here winning nattys!
Not all of this can be directly attributed to DRF and her mission to elevate Mizzou Athletics. But it also doesn’t feel like a coincidence that success has become something of a standard for the…
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