Arizona parting ways with athletic director Dave Heeke: Why now?



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Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke is out after nearly seven years in Tucson, the university announced Monday.

Heeke was hired by the Wildcats in 2017 after spending 11 years as AD at Central Michigan. Before that, he was an assistant AD at Oregon for 18 years.

“I want to thank Dave for his outstanding efforts in leading our athletics program through a period of significant change,” university president Robert C. Robbins said in a release.

The change in leadership comes less than one week after the Wildcats hired Brent Brennan as head football coach. The former San Jose State coach will replace Jedd Fisch, who led Arizona to a 10-3 season in 2023 and left for the same job at Washington.

Former Arizona softball coach Mike Candrea, who retired in 2021, will serve as interim AD per approval by the Arizona Board of Regents.

What prompted this change?

While Arizona just had its best football season in 25 years, it came amidst a tumultuous period for the university. In November, Robbins revealed a $240 million budget miscalculation and warned of “draconian cuts.” He indicated at the time a frustration that the athletic department wasn’t generating enough revenue. On Jan. 11, Heeke wrote an open letter announcing a hiring freeze and pause on new construction projects.

That was shortly before losing Fisch to Washington, which more than doubled his average salary to $7.725 million, no doubt frustrating the community.

But Heeke’s ouster comes less than a week after his well-received hire of Brennan to replace Fisch. In fact, Arizona fans finally got some good news over the weekend when the Wildcats’ star QB Noah Fifita and WR Tetairoa McMillan announced they would remain in Tucson rather than follow Fisch to Washington. Brennan barely got to work for the man who hired him. — Stewart Mandel, college football editor-in-chief

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(Photo: Chris Coduto / Getty Images)





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