Graham Rossini named ASU athletic director

ASU alum, sports business veteran brings focus on revenue, sponsorships, stability; will lead new athletics leadership team in fundraising, partnerships, NIL

Drone panoramic shot of ASU's football stadium

Photo by Chris Goulet/ASU

Graham Rossini, chief business officer of Sun Devil Athletics and a veteran of more than 20 years in sports business at the MLB and Power 5 level, will be named today as Arizona State University’s next athletic director.

Rossini’s background and experience is deep in revenue generation, corporate partnerships and capital projects. He recently led efforts to secure a 15-year naming rights partnership for Mountain America Stadium and a 10-year extension to the naming rights of Desert Financial Arena. He was involved in the opening of Mullett Arena and has served in a leading role with ASU’s relationship with adidas, Coca-Cola and Mayo Clinic.

Portrait of Graham Rossini
Graham Rossini is a veteran of more than 20 years in sports business at the MLB and Power 5 level, including 13 years with the Arizona Diamondbacks as vice president of special projects and fan experience. Photo by Bruce Racine

“The ability to lead the athletics department at my alma mater is a responsibility that I am enormously proud to take on,” said Rossini, who holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business. “I am so thankful for the many opportunities in my life that were created through ASU, and I have much to repay as a result.

“Our entire athletics department will work relentlessly to support our student-athletes and coaches as we compete at the highest level. We will build and maintain strong relationships with the entire ASU community, including our fans, letterwinners, alumni, partners and donors, while celebrating the spirit, pride and tradition that is unique to ASU.”

Rossini served on the committee that hired head ASU baseball coach Willie Bloomquist (2021) and head volleyball coach JJ Van Niel (2022) while negotiating a contract extension with head wrestling coach Zeke Jones (2022). Rossini expanded ASU’s NIL (name, image and likeness) efforts, and leads the transition team as ASU joins the Big 12 in August 2024. The expanded Big 12 positions ASU nationally, as the new conference will cover all four time zones and include broadcast distribution through ESPN and Fox.

Rossini’s time at ASU follows 13 years with the Arizona Diamondbacks as vice president of special projects and fan experience. He was responsible for several departments and revenue generated from ticketing, corporate partnerships, special events, food and beverage, and merchandise. Rossini led over $300 million in capital projects during his time in MLB, and he oversaw the design, construction, ticket sales and marketing of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the team’s award-winning spring training complex that has earned more than 40 “best of” awards since opening in 2011. 

“This is an exciting time for Graham and his family, as well as our entire Sun Devil family,” said Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall, who graduated from ASU in 1991.

“Graham was a talented and valued member of our leadership team before returning home to ASU. I entrusted him with critical and transformational projects and programs throughout his tenure, in all areas of our business. His competence, experience, contacts, creativity and vision always brought success to each of these assignments. I look forward to him taking athletics to new heights. He will have tremendous support through his countless relationships in the business community and his deep roots here.”

Video by Josh Belveal/ASU

Rossini led the Diamondbacks’ successful efforts to host the 2011 All-Star Game and the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He also coordinated the 2014 MLB Opening Series in Sydney, games in Mexico (2015 and 2019), and the bid that secured Phoenix as a host site for the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

“Graham’s background and experience as a sports executive, including his current role as chief business officer of Sun Devil Athletics, gives him the needed experience and vision through which to manage and lead,” said James Rund, interim vice president for university athletics and senior vice president for Educational Outreach and Student Services at ASU.  

Rossini spent eight seasons as a member of the Sun Devil Baseball program, most notably as director of baseball operations. He was a staff member on two Pac-10 championship teams and two College World Series teams.

Q&A with the new AD

Rossini on the opportunities, challenges ahead as ASU's new athletic director

Sun Devil Athletics features 26 intercollegiate varsity sports and more than 650 student-athletes. In addition to Rossini at the helm, two more experienced professionals will help advance ASU through sports and create the financial support necessary to consistently compete at the Power 5 level. The new athletics leadership team also includes:

  • Deputy Athletic Director Lisa Young, who most recently served as vice president for enterprise development with ASU, leading universitywide partnerships including Starbucks and adidas. Young has more than 15 years of deep corporate experience and will help build a results-driven culture within Sun Devil Athletics. Prior to joining ASU in 2018, Young served in leadership positions with multinational companies including Republic Services, Henkel and Honeywell. She holds a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management from ASU and an MBA from the University of Arizona.
  • Executive Associate Athletic Director Scott Nelson, who also will be managing director of the Sun Devil Club, the primary fundraising arm for Sun Devil Athletics. Nelson advanced through collegiate sports in various roles at UCLA, Oregon State and ASU. He is an experienced sports administrator who will assist in launching and leading an aggressive Sun Devil Athletics development campaign. 

“Athletics is the best way to advance the institution and to engage with the community,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “We need a leader and a leadership team that will build a progressive, high-performing sports program and consistently compete at the highest level.”

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