Mark Harlan named new AD, hints at challenges ahead
Following a nearly two-month, nationwide search, USF President Judy Genshaft announced UCLA Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations, Mark Harlan, as new USF Director of Athletics on Tuesday.
Genshaft cited Harlan’s fundraising, passion, dedication to student-athlete development, and improvements in football and men’s basketball under Harlan’s leadership at UCLA as reasons for his selection.
During Harlan’s tenure, which began in July 2010, UCLA won 11 conference championships, four national championships and the student-athlete graduation rate was 87 percent (second in Pac-12 behind Stanford).
“UCLA has re-emerged on the national stage with key hires, and with his leadership, significant investment in infrastructure and giving campaigns,” Genshaft said. “Mark’s reorganization of UCLA’s major-giving program led to a record number of donors and dollars in 2013.”
Since joining UCLA, Harlan helped raise more than $125 million in annual fund and campaign gifts, managed a $137 million renovation to Pauley Pavilion, and played a key role in a $200 million renovation of the Rose Bowl Stadium, UCLA’s off-campus football venue.
Following an introductory news conference, Harlan held a Q-and-A session about his past, present and future as the new leader of USF Athletics.
As he transitions from his position as UCLA Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations into his new role, Harlan said he’s eager to get into the USF community in the coming weeks to find out what needs to be changed.
“We have to get in the community and wake it up,” Harlan said. “My sense is, it’s sleeping a bit. We wake it up by putting the best product on the field, by going out and seeing people and talking. I expect to hear some ideas.”
Set to take office officially on April 7, chief among the issues Harlan will address in the coming months are attendance and the details of USF’s revenue-producing sports — football and men’s basketball.
After a 3 p.m. introduction, Genshaft said the school’s goal is to improve all aspects of men’s basketball and football, known as “revenue sports” in collegiate athletics because they are intended to draw crowds large enough to generate revenue to support all athletic teams.
“Our academic house and medical house are in order, but now we just have to get where we were before with our athletics — in our revenue sports,” Genshaft said. “We’re talking about the revenue sports. Our smaller sports are great.”
With Harlan’s background in fundraising, he said it’s important to speak with the public and find out why attendance is so low at USF football and men’s basketball games. Aside from winning, Harlan said there are other things a program can do to make improvements.12345
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