A uniquely qualified leader with a vast knowledge of and passion for Syracuse University Athletics, former ESPN executive John Wildhack was named Syracuse’s 11th director of athletics in July 2016.
At Syracuse, Wildhack leads the daily operations of a 20-sport athletics department with more than 600 student-athletes.
Since his arrival on campus, Wildhack has overseen multiple strategic initiatives to ensure the future success of the department. Among the most impactful have been securing a $118 million investment from the University for enhancements to the Dome and the formation of an in-house production unit.
Authorized by the Board of Trustees in May 2018, the $118 million in funds enabled the University to move forward with improvements to the Dome. The upgrades include a new fixed roof, vertically-hung scoreboard, and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, which are scheduled for completion in September 2020.
The Syracuse Athletics Production team formed in the fall of 2017. In its first three years, the group broadcast 301 live events and was responsible for nearly 1,000 hours of content on ACC Network and the conference’s digital platform – ACC Network Extra.
During his distinguished career at ESPN, which spanned more than 30 years, Wildhack held a number of leadership roles and was responsible for several firsts at the network. Those firsts included producing ESPN’s first live regular-season college football game in September 1984 and its first live NFL game in August 1987.
Before joining the Orange, Wildhack most recently served as the network’s executive vice president for programming and production. He was responsible for oversight of all ESPN and ABC game, event and studio production work for domestic and international television and radio, as well as programming acquisitions, rights-holder relationship management and scheduling. He managed all league and conference relationships, negotiated all live sports television rights and was responsible for 50,000 hours of on-air content annually.
From 2007 to 2012, Wildhack was ESPN’s executive vice president for programming and acquisitions.
A native of Buffalo, New York and a 1980 alumnus of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in telecommunications, Wildhack joined ESPN in its first year of operation immediately following his graduation. An active alumnus of the University, he sits on the Advisory Board for the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics and was an honoree at the “Newhouse at 40” Gala. He and his wife, Amy, have two sons, Tommy and James. John is also the father of a son, M.J.