Lisa Love's Firing at ASU: Memory Of a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

The sacking of Arizona State University athletic director (with a fancier title) Lisa Love came as no big surprise, especially after the fiasco following the firing of head football Coach Dennis Erickson.

Sun Devils' fans (and there still are some) watched with some horror as the rookie-league attempts to find a new coach backfire in a very public way, before Pittsburgh's Todd Graham jumped at the job like a large-mouth bass at a big yummy bait.

Many folks also were aghast when Love and company endorsed a contract extension a few months ago for men's head basketball Coach Herb Sendek, whose program has been struggling desperately since the departure of the great James Harden (now of the NBA West-leading Oklahoma City Thunder) a few years ago.

For the record, we enjoyed our chats with Lisa Love shortly after she came on board in April 2005.

We introduced ourselves over a glass of wine at the Mission Palms Hotel, where we chatted about ASU's then-head basketball coach Rob Evans, a super guy who we got to know very well during this memorable story we did on him and his program.

Intelligent, friendly and engaged, Love spoke of the numerous challenges she was facing in trying to move ASU's sports programs in the nation's upper echelon, in the mold of a, say, Stanford.

Within the year, Love fired Evans, which was understandable considering the Sun Devils' 39-48 records over the coach's final three years at the helm (Sendek's teams, incidentally, have gone 44-51 over the past three years, which officially is lousy.)

We remember something that Love told us as we sipped on our Chardonnay.

"One of the most important things that a person in my job has to do is hire the right people," she said. "Winning and losing is the obvious barometer, but they also have to be people of great character, who want their players to graduate, to be good citizens, and to get better and better on the field, the court, wherever they are.

"For me to make it work at ASU, I inevitably will have to make some difficult decisions, and those decisions will have to be the right decisions. I know I can do the job, and I am really looking forward to it."

Unfortunately for her current job status (fired by ASU president Dr. Michael Crow), Lisa Love was prescient being judged by her hirings and firings. 

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin