Baron Athletics

Q&A with Danny Anderson ’97

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Baron Athletics

Q&A with Danny Anderson ’97

Q&A with new athletic director Danny Anderson '97

Winter 2024

In This Article

In January, Danny Andersen ’97 started work full-time as Franciscan University’s director of Athletics. Here, Andersen discusses his return to campus, his vision for Franciscan athletics, and more.


What led you to enroll at Franciscan?

I became a Christian in high school through a coach, but I wasn’t very mature in the faith. I was at the University of Arizona, and I knew a couple of people who were going to Franciscan. I was attracted to the mission, even though I wasn’t Catholic. I thought a smaller school, with an emphasis on the faith, would provide much needed direction and decided to try it out.


You’ve worked at the highest levels of public service, serving as a member of the CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, as an officer in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps, and as an attorney in the CIA’s Office of General Counsel. What made you decide to return to Franciscan?

It was quite a discernment process. My CIA service will always be special to me, and nothing will ever replace it. However, I’ve accomplished everything I set out to accomplish there. Almost every good thing in my life is connected in some way to Franciscan. I was baptized there, I received the sacraments of initiation and had my first confession there, my wife (Liz Forest ’06) graduated from there … At every major juncture, Franciscan has been a part of it. Returning to serve the mission of the University as athletic director is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.


How will you continue to build on Franciscan’s vision for the Athletic Department?

The Athletic Department exists to advance the mission of the University by forming disciples, developing leaders, and pursuing excellence. A big part is making sure everything we do, every detail, is under the banner of Jesus Christ. We can never be satisfied with where we’re at; there are always ways to improve and innovate. My job is to set the standard and culture for the department to flourish into the future. We want student-athletes to leave here and more intentionally and effectively serve Christ, evangelize, lead, and succeed in their vocations because they were exposed to Franciscan athletics. That’s a mission that will brook no compromise!


What most excites you about this new position?

Athletics has always been an important part of my life, and I believe it provides a powerful vehicle to propel the University’s mission. About 20 percent of the student body are athletes who will spend a lot of time around their coaches and the Athletic Department over four years—at a critical time in their development. The opportunities to form and equip them as disciples and leaders who pursue excellence and then go out to impact and sanctify the world in every sphere are unlimited. Collegiate athletics is a unique, fertile ground in this regard.


Do you have a favorite sport?

I was a basketball player in high school and played club basketball at Franciscan, but as the new athletic director, I don’t want to single out one sport as a favorite. I will say, though, that I have a deep appreciation for athletes in endurance sports, especially after competing in triathlons. I admire the sheer physical and mental determination of the endurance athlete.


Tell us about your family.

My wife and I have four wonderful children: Clara, 12; Max, 10; Maria, 7; and Joe, 4. They will join me in Steubenville at the end of the school year. They participate in multiple sports, and I have coached several of them, so we are blessed to be active with our own athletic department!

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