University of Utah

Mark Harlan
Director of Athletics

Mark Harlan

Mark Harlan, a veteran administrator with Pac-12 ties, was named director of athletics at the University of Utah on June 1, 2018. Harlan brought more than 20 years of athletics administration experience at five universities to his new post, most recently four years as the athletics director at the University of South Florida.

Prior to his appointment at USF in 2014, Harlan served as the senior associate athletics director for external relations at UCLA, senior vice president for central development at Arizona, senior associate athletics director at San Jose State and associate athletics director at Northern Colorado.

The Los Angeles native spearheaded record competitive, academic and fundraising accomplishments at South Florida, while also negotiating new multimedia rights and apparel partnerships.

In his tenure at USF, the Bulls won 14 American Athletic Conference titles. Nine USF programs ranked in the top 25 in 2015-16 when the Bulls led the AAC in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings.

In his tenure at USF, the Bulls won 14 American Athletic Conference titles. Nine USF programs ranked in the top 25 in 2015-16 when the Bulls led the AAC in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings.

The football program, which went 2-10 the year before Harlan’s hiring, surged to a 21-4 record in his last two years, including a school-record 11 wins in 2016. The Bulls made three straight bowl appearances from 2015-17–beating bowl opponents from the SEC and Big 12 in 2016 (South Carolina) and 2017 (Texas Tech). They appeared in the final AP poll for the first time in 2016, when they were ranked No. 19 in both the AP and Coaches’ polls. In 2017, Harlan hire Charlie Strong led the Bulls to a 10-2 record and a No. 21 final ranking.

Other USF teams also excelled nationally under Harlan’s oversight. In 2015, the men’s golf and tennis teams reached the NCAA quarterfinals and round of 16, respectively—the best NCAA finishes in both programs’ history. Women’s basketball also appeared in the top 25 and played in the NCAA Tournament all four years with Harlan as the AD. Women’s soccer won its first conference title in 2017 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament three times, while the baseball team returned to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 13 years in 2015. They both earned top-25 rankings, as did softball, men’s soccer and sailing.

In the classroom, USF student-athletes set school marks for combined grade-point average and Graduation Success Rate (GSR). In the fall of 2017, USF opened the Fishman Family Student-Athlete Enrichment Center, a $750,000 facility dedicated to academic achievement and student-athlete welfare.

Under Harlan’s guidance, USF Athletics saw a 300-percent increase in major giving and had the best fundraising year in school history in 2016-17, attracting $15 million. His announcement of plans for a new $40-million on-campus football center was soon followed by an $8 million gift to athletics—the largest in program history.

Harlan also negotiated a 10-year multimedia rights partnership with Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties, struck an eight-year partnership with adidas as the official footwear, apparel and accessory brand of the Bulls and oversaw a restructure of the school’s athletic brand.

He has been named to several influential committees and is currently serving on the NCAA Division I Council Transfer Working Group and the NCAA Division I Competition Oversight Committee. He chaired the American Athletic Conference Athletic Directors Committee in 2017-18, and as the vice chair in 2016, played a key role in developing the conference’s strategic plan. As a former member of the Tampa Bay Sports Commission Executive Committee, Harlan assisted in bringing major events such as the CFP National Championship, NCAA Women’s Final Four and NHL All-Star game to Tampa Bay.

Harlan came to USF after serving as the senior associate athletics director for external relations at UCLA from 2010-14, where his oversight responsibilities included the men’s basketball program, development, communications, marketing, ticket sales, sponsorships, multimedia rights and alumni affairs.

While at UCLA, Harlan reorganized the structure of the major giving program and the annual fund, which resulted in a record number of donors and dollars raised in 2013. He successfully managed completion of a $137 million campaign to renovate iconic Pauley Pavilion in 2012. Harlan was also heavily involved in the negotiations with the City of Pasadena to enable a $200 million renovation of the Rose Bowl Stadium.

Harlan left for UCLA after four years as the senior vice president for central development at the University of Arizona Foundation from 2006-10. Under Harlan’s direction, the Foundation posted two record years in funds raised and in the number of gifts processed on behalf of the university. He moved into central development at Arizona after over a decade working in the Wildcat athletic department. He held a variety of roles in athletics, serving as the assistant coordinator for football recruiting and operations (1992-94), program coordinator for event management (1994-97), director of operations (1997-2000), director of annual development (2000-02) and assistant athletics director for development and marketing (2002-04).

Harlan’s background also includes one-year stints as senior associate athletics director for external operations at San Jose State (2005-06) and associate athletics director for external operations at Northern Colorado (2004-05). At SJSU, he launched a planned giving program that generated $8 million in estate gifts directed toward student-athlete scholarship endowments. At Northern Colorado, he played a key role in the school’s transition to NCAA Division I and the Big Sky Conference.

Harlan, 48, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in education from Arizona. He and his wife Carolyn have two children: Savannah (13) and Austin (10).