Senate President Pro Tempore Requests Investigation Into ASU Athletic Department

September 2, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

State Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope (R-LD16) requested an investigation into the Arizona State University (ASU) athletic department. 

In a letter to Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) Chairman Fred DuVal on Wednesday, Shope said that an investigation is warranted into ASU Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics Director Ray Anderson due to years of improprieties and embarrassments.

“Whether looking at the questionable hiring of Mr. Anderson’s friend and former client Herm Edwards as the head football coach, to the multimillion-dollar buyout of Mr. Edwards, to the now self-imposed bowl ban, the raft of improprieties and frankly embarrassing issues that have occurred during Mr. Anderson’s tenure lead one to wonder just what is next and whether anyone is holding anyone accountable,” wrote Shope. 

Shope said that student-athletes and coaches have suffered greatly under Anderson’s administration.

“These series of events have become insults to the hardworking student-athletes who are desperate to prove themselves this season, as well as the new coaching staff who are trying to resurrect the program, and ultimately, the Arizonans who wish to take pride in their local universities,” said Shope. 

Anderson denied that his office controlled the timing of the Sun Devils’ Sunday announcement of their self-imposed ban over the upcoming bowl, issued five days before the season opener. The ban followed an investigation into allegations that former football coach Herm Edwards had committed multiple recruiting violations. 

Back in 2021, The Athletic issued a breaking report that the NCAA was investigating ASU’s football program for hosting high school prospects during the COVID-19 dead period, which lasted from March 2020 to June 2021. That investigation remains ongoing. In a press release announcing the self-imposed bowl ban, Anderson cited the investigation as the reason for their preemptive action.

“In light of the ongoing investigation and our membership obligation to maintain the confidentiality of the matter, we will not be commenting further at this time,” said Anderson.

Shope asked ABOR to look into why ASU paid Edwards $4.4 million in a buyout agreement rather than firing him, and why that buyout, if justified, prompted ASU to wait until this week to impose the bowl ban. Shope also asked ABOR to determine whether ASU intentionally announced the bowl ban after the April 2023 undergraduate transfer portal deadline in order to prevent players from leaving the university. 

After Edwards got his ASU buyout, he rejoined ESPN as an NFL and college football analyst. 

As noted by Sports Illustrated, ASU issued its self-imposed ban about six weeks after the NCAA Committee on Infractions indicated it would avoid revoking postseason competition for any colleges or universities that break their rules. 

The ban also comes several weeks after ASU announced its move to the Big 12 Conference next year, along with University of Arizona and University of Utah. ASU has been part of the Pac-12 Conference since 1978. 

Initial celebration over ASU’s move to the Big 12 was promptly clouded by a remark from Anderson that left a bad taste in fellow conferees’ mouths. Anderson said he had no desire to travel to Morgantown, West Virginia for competitions; he later apologized for the remark. 

ASU fans and students have also called for Anderson’s firing.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

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