Mike Nealy steps down as executive director of Fiesta Bowl – Arizona Sports

The Fiesta Bowl organization announced on Tuesday that the bowl’s executive director Mike Nealy is stepping down after eight years in the position.

“We worked diligently over the last eight years to develop world-class college football bowl season experiences and community events while also driving economic growth and expanding charitable giving within our Arizona community,” Nealy said in a statement. “I believe this is the right time to step aside as the Fiesta Bowl continues to prepare for what is expected to be a dynamic future for collegiate bowl season organizations.

“I have enjoyed serving our community and the Fiesta Bowl organization during a time of growth and stability and being a champion of charitable causes across the great state of Arizona.”

The Fiesta Bowl’s board of directors will undergo a national search in the coming months to find a replacement for Nealy.

“Mike was hired by the Fiesta Bowl eight years ago to help strengthen the bowl as a preeminent organization, execute our charitable mission and expand our partner and sponsor base,” Fiesta Bowl board chair Patrick Barkley said in a press release. “He was the right person to help us meet our mission and objectives and we are deeply grateful for all of Mike’s contributions to the Fiesta Bowl organization. We wish Mike the best in all his future endeavors.”

Prior to stepping into his role as executive director of the Fiesta Bowl, Nealy had spent eight years with the Arizona Coyotes, including time as the franchise’s president and chief operating officer.

Current board member Jim Hatfield will hold the position in place of Nealy on an interim basis while the search is underway.

“Mike has done an excellent job of helping to fortify our organization, its charitable mission and our place in college football. I am honored to provide a steady hand as we look for our future next executive director,” Hatfield said in a statement.

Follow @KellanOlson