Mark Harlan was named director of athletics at the University of Utah on June 1, 2018. A veteran administrator
with Pac-12 ties, Harlan brought more than 20 years of intercollegiate athletics experience at five universities
to Salt Lake City, including the previous four years as director of athletics at the University of South Florida.
Since arriving at Utah, Harlan has overseen significant success in competition, in the classroom and in the community,
as well as substantial fundraising success to improve the student-athlete experience, including a record number of
donors to the Crimson Club. In his first year at the helm, the skiing program won the 2019 national championship; the
football program won its first Pac-12 South championship and played in the Holiday Bowl; gymnastics advanced to the
NCAA semifinals, and the volleyball and men’s tennis programs advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Also during Harlan’s first year, student-athletes recorded the department’s highest GPA in history, with the Utes’
551 student-athletes earning a collective 3.25 GPA. In addition, Utah’s 95-percent graduation rate, according to the
NCAA’s latest Graduation Success Rate report in November 2018, was the highest in school history.
Harlan and University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins unveiled in November 2018 plans for the expansion of
Rice-Eccles Stadium. The $80 million project, to be completed in 2021, will include premium seating, event spaces and
new locker rooms as part of a design that will fully enclose the stadium’s south end zone section. Additional momentum
for the project came in April 2019 with the announcement of the Ken Garff Performance Zone, funded by the Ken Garff
family’s $17.5 million donation, the largest gift in Utah Athletics history.
The health and wellness of student-athletes is a priority for Harlan and, in his first year with the Utes, he focused
on improving mental health resources for students by working closely with the Crimson Council and Utah’s Student-
Athletic Advisory Committee. The initiatives include the addition of a full-time mental health counselor to be available
to serve Utah’s student-athletes.
In his four-year tenure leading the South Florida athletics department, Harlan spearheaded record competitive,
academic and fundraising accomplishments while also negotiating new multimedia rights and apparel partnerships.
The Bulls won 14 American Athletic Conference titles under his leadership and nine USF programs ranked in the top 25
in 2015-16 when the Bulls led the AAC in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings.
The Bulls’ football program, which went 2-10 the year before Harlan’s arrival, surged to a 21-4 record in his last two
years, including a school-record 11 wins in 2016. The Bulls made three consecutive bowl appearances from 2015-17,
defeating bowl opponents from the SEC and Big 12 in 2016 (South Carolina) and 2017 (Texas Tech). USF appeared in
the final AP poll for the first time in 2016, when it 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 Football
Oversight Committee, 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 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, 50, 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 (14) and Austin (11).
DECEMBER 31, 2019 / OFFICIAL GAME PROGRAM 81