Arizona president Bobby Robbins to step down following term

On3 imageby:Pete Nakos04/02/24

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University of Arizona President Bobby Robbins, who tried to help the Pac-12 Conference survive and was crucially involved in college athletics, will step down at the end of his contract term.

The cardiac surgeon and former hospital administrator took over as the 22nd president of the University of Arizona in 2017. In his letter to students and colleagues Tuesday, he wrote that he is prepared to leave Arizona sooner if the Board of Regents selects a new president who is prepared to start sooner. His current contract runs through June 30, 2026. The institution is grappling with a $177 million budget shortfall. 

A champion of Arizona athletics, he played a critical role in organizing the Future of College Sports Summit in Washington, D.C., this past summer. The event brought together NCAA President Charlie Baker, conference commissioners, athletic directors and NIL collectives.

In his opening remarks at the summit in June, he said college athletics were “in the ICU.” Roughly two months later, the Wildcats joined the Big 12 Conference. After patiently waiting months for Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff to deliver a TV deal, he underdelivered. Apple‘s initial offer was a five-year deal with an annual base rate of $23 million per school (a subsequent counteroffer lifted it to $25 million), with incentives based on projected subscribers, according to The Athletic.

The Wildcats will join the Big 12 for the 2024-25 academic year. Just two schools are left in the 108-year-old Pac-12. Robbins held on as long as possible. The University of Arizona President was prepared to sign the Pac-12’s Grant of Rights, but Oregon and Washington left for the Big Ten.

Bobby Robbins also led the process of hiring Missouri athletic director Desireé Reed-Francois as the school’s next AD. The hire turned heads in college athletics, hiring a sitting AD away from the SEC. With an athletic department with financial struggles, Reed-Francois is seen as an experienced leader ready to take on the task.