A retirement well-earned
Senior Associate Athletic Director Mark Brand retiring after 39 years at ASU
The first thing you noticed when you walked into Mark Brand’s office was his desk.
As the senior associate athletic director of media relations at Arizona State University, Brand’s plate was so full that he would often start work as the sun was coming up and not leave until after the moon was high in the sky.
But his desk was always organized and immaculate, a sign of order amid the chaos around him.
“He likes to have stuff crossed off his list, and he’s very efficient,” said Doug Tammaro, assistant athletic director of media relations. “He tries to have an empty inbox every day. That’s just the way he operates."
That desk will soon belong to someone else. Brand on Thursday announced he is retiring, effective July 12, after 39 years on the job.
“Aside from a two-year stint as assistant SID at East Carolina University upon graduation from Purdue University in 1981, ASU has been the only home I have ever known in my professional life,” Brand wrote in a letter to athletic department staff members. “And what a glorious life it has been.”
Brand was hired in 1983 by then-athletic director Dick Tamburo and sports information director Paul Jensen. He became sports information director in 1987 – his duties included managing the budget, overseeing publicity for the football program, and handling football and basketball scheduling — and over the years he has won numerous awards, including the announcement this past February that he will be inducted into the Collegiate Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame.
“He outlasted a lot of people, and that says something for him,” said former ASU men’s basketball coach Bill Frieder. “You had coaches, ADs, everybody come and go, and he outlasted them. He wouldn’t have done that if he wasn’t doing a good job.”
ASU News talked to Brand’s colleagues, as well as former coaches and players to get a sense of what he meant to Sun Devil sports. Brand, as is his nature, politely declined to talk about himself.
Jeff Van Raaphorst, former ASU quarterback and current football color analyst
"Certain words come to mind when I think of Mark. Linchpin. Keystone. Protector. Ambassador. Those things all kind of define Mark. Mark has probably been the single best employee I’ve ever seen for any company. The stories I remember about Mark are the late-night flights home from places like Pullman, Washington (site of Washington State University). We’d get in at 4 a.m. and Mark would go right to his office and sleep for a couple of hours on a blanket he laid on the floor. I finally bought him an air mattress, and I remember thinking that I hope ASU appreciates the scope of what this guy is doing."
ASU President Michael Crow
"Mark Brand is the best of ASU. For nearly four decades he has been a focused, high-integrity professional who will be sorely missed. We will miss him, and wish him well in his well-earned retirement."
Jake Plummer, former quarterback who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1996
"It’s funny. I was so immersed in the moment that season and so focused on what we were trying to accomplish it didn’t really dawn on me all he did until afterwards when I realized, 'Oh my God, that’s how Heisman candidates get voted for.' Obviously, the performance on the field but also what goes on behind the scenes. He was integral, but it wasn’t a 'look at what I’m doing' kind of thing. He was always in the background. He did it selflessly, for the love of the program and love of what he did. The one thing I remember about him was trying to keep up with him when he walked around the place. He walked around so fast. That’s why he got the nickname Hot Coals. He never stood around for too long. He was always moving."
Paul Jensen, former sports information director
"He’s probably the most conscientious person I’ve ever known. He’s just loyal, loyal, loyal, and whatever you give him to do he’ll get done. He’s always going to answer the bell. Whatever it is, he’ll be there. ASU was blessed to have him."
Linda Vollstedt, former ASU women’s golf coach
"He was always looking out for women’s sports, wanting to make sure they were covered. He would get so excited when women’s sports did well. He was always there for us whenever we needed something. I just knew I could count on him. He gave his heart and soul to ASU, and he did everything with integrity and honor."
Doug Tammaro, current assistant athletic director
"People have no idea how much he has done behind the scenes, in good and bad situations. Just next-level stuff. He’s the guy who makes the extra phone call. He’s the guy who thinks of something no one else has. Every day I would go to work and try to be the person that cares the most, and I felt like I was in second place every day. The guy was phenomenal about just caring (for ASU)."
Don Bocchi, former senior associate athletic director
"He was the mortar between the bricks. He emotionally lived everything that happened to ASU athletics, good and bad. I don’t know a person who is more professional at what they did, and he did it every day for 39 years."
Top photo of Sun Devil Stadium by Anya Magnuson/ASU News