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U of U has new man at the helm of athletics

(University of Utah President Ruth Watkins introduces Mark Harlan and family)

SALT LAKE CITY — A new era officially kicks off at the University of Utah.  The school introduces their new athletics director, and he says he knows he has big shoes to fill.

“Get ready, buckle up and go Utes!” That’s the message from Athletics Director Mark Harlan.

The new AD will officially start his tenure on July 1, after he’s finished as the AD for the University of South Florida.  University of Utah officials say while at USF, the Bulls won 12 American Athletic Conference Championships and nine different programs were ranked in the top 25 during the 2017-2018 season.

Harlan gave high praise to the school’s outgoing AD.

“You’re following an unbelievable director in Chris Hill who did so many incredible things.  He did it the right way, with high integrity,” Harlan says.

He admits there is a lot of pressure on him to continue the success Hill had while at the helm of the Athletics Department, however, “I’m also so blessed because of the foundation and even the big house on that foundation. So, it really is way more of a blessing than pressure.”

Harlan says he was always impressed with the facilities and the coaches at Utah, even when he was working for rivals like UCLA and Arizona.  Plus, he feels Utah already has the tools it needs to succeed in the PAC 12.

“I told the head coaches, ‘When you played Utah, you were in a fight.  It didn’t matter what sport it was, you were in a fight and it was really hard to win,” Harlan says.

University President Ruth Watkins says they had a large number of applicants in their nationwide search, which shows a lot of people want to come to Utah.

“I think we had a wonderful process and that surfaced Mark as the clear best choice for this position,” she says.