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Mark Harlan introduced as Utah Athletic Director

Sights and sounds from UofU's introduction of new Athletic Director Mark Harlan

The University of Utah introduced the heir to Chris Hill’s throne this morning. Mark Harlan was announced as Hill’s predecessor on Friday and Utah Athletics held an introductory press conference Monday. 

Aware of the big shoes he has to fill, Harlan is ready for his next challenge.

“Chris [Hill] is on the Mount Rushmore of our business,” Harlan said. “He’s pledged his complete support to me and the staff and I can’t wait to get to work on what he started.” 

Harlan was named AD after what University President Ruth Watkins called an extensive nationwide search including a number of outstanding candidates. 

“Mark was our clear top choice,” Watkins said. “[Harlan] 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.”

Prior to the announcement, Harlan spent time in various leadership positions on campuses across the country and, in particular, the Pac-12 Conference. 

“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.” – Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott

A graduate from the University of Arizona, Harlan served as the university’s senior vice president for central development before moving on to UCLA as a senior associate athletic director. His reputation, however, didn’t quite take off until he moved east to the University of South Florida. 

During his tenure at USF, Harlan helped launch the Bulls into national prominence. 12 American Athletic Conference championships later and a football program that routinely found themselves in the national rankings, Harlan has proven that he can aid growth and consistency in an athletic department.

“My expectations here are very simple,” Harlan said. “It’s to win. We’re going to win in the classroom… we’re going to win in the community… and we’re going to win in competition.”

Overseeing the 20 varsity sports, 200 employees and $80 million budget, Harlan will begin work on July 1st. 

“When we think about the University of Utah – certainly our athletic program – it’s strong, it’s healthy, it’s vibrant,” Watkins said. “Mark is joining the University of Utah at a wonderful time.” 

For his first 1-on-1 interview in Salt Lake City, Bill Riley welcomed Harlan to the University of Utah and got some insight from the man himself.

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