Utah took the next step into its future in athletics Monday with its introduction of new director of athletics, Mark Harlan.
The former AD at the University of South Florida stepped into his new post and promised what most in his position would: a focus on academics, community and on-field achievement. But he made an interesting point about Utah’s standing within the Pac-12:
On competing in Pac-12, Harlan said, "I promise we're not going to take a back-seat to anybody. Everything is in place here with the coaches and student-athletes."
— Mike Sorensen (@sorny8) June 4, 2018
Under Harlan’s watch, USF football returned to prominence, finding itself in the Associated Press Top 25 for a program-record 19 straight weeks. Utah touted this point in its release announcing his hire.
“After an extensive national search during which we spoke with a number of outstanding candidates, Mark emerged as our clear top choice,” said University of Utah president Ruth V. Watkins in the news release. “Mark has a breadth of experience in athletics and in fundraising, an open and collaborative leadership style and a track record of success that will enable him to lead our athletics department to greater heights. On behalf of the university community, I want to welcome Mark and his family to the U.”
In the big-money sports, Harlan finds a coach entrenched on the football sideline in Kyle Whittingham (111-56 overall, 11-1 in bowl games), who’s built a consistent contender that occasionally jumps into the national picture. On the basketball court, he’ll work with Larry Krystkowiak, the second-highest-paid coach in the Pac-12 behind Arizona’s Sean Miller. In seven seasons, he’s posted a 137-97 mark (63-61 in conference play), including two NCAA Tournament berths.
Harlan will be filling some pretty big shoes left by Chris Hill, whose retirement prompted the search and eventual hiring of Harlan.
“This is an unbelievable institution.”
— Utah Athletics (@utahathletics) June 4, 2018
Harlan, a Los Angeles native, brings Pac-12 experience to Utah, having worked at Arizona and UCLA before journeying east to take his position at USF. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott approved of the hire.
“I am thrilled to hear of Mark Harlan’s selection as the University of Utah’s next athletic director, and excited to welcome him back to the Pac-12,” Scott said, per the release. “President Watkins and her team have made an outstanding choice. Mark has a great reputation in our conference from his time at Arizona and UCLA, and I know he will build upon the great foundation that Chris Hill has established over the last 31 years at Utah. I have great respect for Mark, both as a leader and as a person, and I look forward to working with him in our conference.”
More talking points from Harlan’s introductory news conference are below:
What's on the checklist?
"Listening is very important. Getting to know the staff. We also have to know we are ready. Are we plug-and-play ready? The fall will be here in a snap. I will also be in this community meeting with the people and the donors." -Utah AD Mark Harlan
— ESPN 700 (@ESPN700) June 4, 2018
"I asked about season ticket renewals for the upcoming season and I was told we are at 98%. I said, can you tell me that again? 98-percent? That's incredible." -Utah AD Mark Harlan on with @espn700bill
— ESPN 700 (@ESPN700) June 4, 2018
New Utah AD Mark Harlan: “Get ready. Buckle up. Go Utes.” 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/UaT2iq5wWo
— Salt Lake Tribune Sports (@sltribsports) June 4, 2018
Mark Harlan and his family with Utah president Ruth Watkins. pic.twitter.com/tJAQUvUhOG
— Josh Furlong (@JFurKSL) June 4, 2018