Anderson Excited for Conference Partnership with Merton Hanks
Story by Sean Murphy, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Sports Journalism
Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson was excited to welcome longtime friend and associate Merton Hanks as the new senior associate commissioner for football operations for the Pac-12 Conference in a Zoom press conference hosted by ASU on Oct. 1.
Hanks stepped into this position on Sept. 8 and will have a hand in the operational side of Pac-12 football this season and beyond. He looks forward to being able to focus exclusively on football, as he served as the Conference USA Senior Associate Commissioner since 2016 prior to joining the Pac-12.
Anderson and Hanks' relationship precedes when they both joined the college ranks as executives. The two worked side-by-side in football operations for the National Football League from 2004 to 2013; Anderson was the vice president of football operations while Hanks was his Assistant Director of Operations and later Vice President for Operations in charge of player conduct.
"When it became clear that the Pac-12 was going to have an opportunity to look for a senior position in football operations with the departure of Woodie Dixon, the opportunity to focus in on somebody with really tremendous football acumen and experience was something that we had the opportunity to do," Anderson said of the Pac-12's talk of a new hire.
Anderson, who currently serves as the Chair of the Pac-12 Athletic Director group, spoke very highly of Hanks' skill set and his ability to relate with people. He along with the other Pac-12 athletic directors agreed in meetings that Hanks was certainly the man they wanted for the job.
Anderson said that Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott and Pac-12 athletic directors made a unanimous decision that if they were able to get Merton Hanks, they needed to do it and they needed to do it quickly.
"Merton brings instant credibility to the position. As important as anything, it's because the coaches, the assistant coaches and the folks who have been in the trenches understand and appreciate where Merton has been," said Anderson.
Hanks has been in his position for less than a month and Anderson already recognizes the profound impact that Hanks has had, stating that there is a great deal of respect from all Pac-12 executives for the intelligence and certainty that Hanks brings to the table.
Hanks feels very blessed to be in this position and believes very strongly in the Pac-12 and what the conference is capable of.
"I have a reverence for the conference. I know what the conference means to young men like myself and the young men coming up now," Hanks said. "We are a great conference with great student-athletes and great coaches and great administrators. I simply would not have come to this situation if I did not believe that was the case."
Hanks looks forward to working with people that he knows for a fact are exemplary and have a good reputation. He says that one of the reasons he took the job is because he knew he was going to get to work with people like Ray Anderson and Jean Boyd.
First and foremost, Hanks wants to make sure that Pac-12 schools and their student-athletes are safe and healthy, while providing them the tools that they need to ensure that they have the best opportunity to be successful. He wants student-athletes to receive information that will help them achieve their goals and give them the best college experience possible.
"We're dealing with 18- to 22-year-olds who have their life in front of them and we always have to be cognizant of where they are at and working with them and building these young men," Hanks said. "You only do that with good people and it's an honor and privilege to Jean (Boyd), Ray and this group to be a part of the Pac-12 family."