Former volleyball coach leaves USC ranks

Updated: April 24, 2005, 5:57 PM ET
Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Lisa Love, a former volleyball coach who climbed through the administrative ranks at Southern California, was named athletic director at Arizona State on Saturday.

Love, senior associate athletic director at USC, replaces Gene Smith, who resigned to become athletic director at Ohio State. She signed a five-year contract with ASU that includes both academic and athletic performance incentives. Her official title is vice president for university athletics.

"I am committed to making Arizona State University consistently a nationally elite athletics program that just takes names and wins championships," Love said at a news conference. "I'm all about that. I've enjoyed 15 years at USC. I've enjoyed a mentality of thinking big and dreaming big."

In a statement released by Arizona State, USC football coach Pete Carroll called Love "a great selection."

"She comes from a great program at USC and she helped build that program," Carroll said. "She really understands the world of coaching and she has played a key role in the success of our program."

University president Michael Crow said Love was his first choice after a nationwide search.

"Of all the people that we interacted with, there was one individual that stood out with the combination of skills -- master teacher, thinker, high energy total commitment, total focus on excellence, both academic excellence and competitive excellence," Crow said.

Love was formally interviewed on Friday, one day after Wyoming athletic director Gary Barta was interviewed.

Love, 49, becomes the second woman athletic director in the Pac-10. The other is Sandy Barbour of California. Barbara Hedges retired as athletic director at Washington in January.

Love was women's volleyball coach at USC from 1989-98, reaching the NCAA tournament nine times. She held the title of associate athletic director from June 1991 to April 2002, when she was promoted to senior associate athletic director.

At USC, Love oversaw day-to-day operation of five sports -- women's basketball, women's volleyball, women's tennis, women's swimming and diving and men's swimming and diving. She also monitors all women's sports and participates in gender equity, civil rights and NCAA certification issues.

She came to USC from Texas-Arlington, where her volleyball teams won five Southland Conference title and advanced to the NCAAs four times in her seven years there. Love was a four-year volleyball starter at Texas Tech and then coached at the high school level for five years.

She said several schools had contacted her before about an athletic director position, but she felt Arizona State was the right choice. She will assume her new post July 1.

"The frustrating thing is I can't learn fast enough," Love said. "I want to learn all things Sun Devil and I want to know it yesterday. I want to know the culture, I want to know the heritage, I want to know the politics, I want to know the players."

With her Los Angeles background, she knows the problems of competing with professional sports but said that with the booming population of the Phoenix area and the beauty of its surroundings, "there is no reason that you cannot explode with success, and I'm committed with that."

Crow called Love a "next-generation athletic director" and wants her to remain at Arizona State for many years.

"What it means is an athletic director who gets the fact that this is a university," he said, "that gets the fact all the time every day that this is a university and we need to be producing student-athlete graduates."


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE