Arizona makes stunning change at athletic director days after football hire
Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke is out.
On Monday, Arizona president Robert Robbins announced that Heeke’s nearly seven-year tenure will come to an end on Feb. 2. Former softball coach Mike Candrea will serve as the interim AD while the school searches for a permanent replacement.
“I want to thank Dave for his outstanding efforts in leading our athletics program through a period of significant change,” Robbins said in a statement. “He helped get our men’s and women’s basketball programs and our football program on a strong trajectory, oversaw the success of several of our sports teams and greatly enhanced the student-athlete experience. Dave always displayed the highest integrity, and I am appreciative of his partnership and dedication. On behalf of all Wildcats, I wish Dave and Liz and their family all the best in the years to come.”
The move comes less than a week after Heeke hired former San Jose State coach Brent Brennan to be the program’s next head football coach.
Arizona also just had quite the weekend, with the basketball team storming back from a double-digit second-half deficit to beat UCLA at home and key football stars Noah Fifita and Tetairoa McMillan announcing their intention to remain at the UA.
Heeke took the Arizona AD job in 2017. He was the man in charge when the Wildcats fired Rich Rodriguez and replaced him with Kevin Sumlin. Heeke then replaced Sumlin with Jedd Fisch — which proved to be a shrewd move — when Sumlin flamed out.
Fisch took an 0-5 team in 2020 and turned out a 10-win season in 2023.
Heeke also hired Tommy Lloyd to take over the men’s basketball program, and the Wildcats have enjoyed consecutive Pac-12 Tournament championships since. In Year 3, Lloyd is 75-15 as head coach.
Arizona is on its way into the Big 12 next summer, a move Heeke was involved in.
But a major blunder came this offseason, when Heeke tried and failed to extend Fisch before he left to take the Washington job. Heeke was very open in November and December about directing more money and resources to Fisch and his assistant coaching staff.
Meanwhile, the greater university is trying to navigate through a significant financial crisis. It’s currently unclear if either played any part in the decision to part ways with Heeke.