Harlan to be introduced as USF athletic director
TAMPA -- UCLA senior associate athletic director Mark Harlan is expected to be formally introduced as USF's new AD today at a 3 p.m. press conference.
After interviewing Harlan for less than an hour in a Selmon Athletic Center conference room this morning, USF's six-person search advisory committee unanimously agreed to forward Harlan's name to President Judy Genshaft.
Committee chairman Bill Sutton said Harlan, 44, was identified by he and Bob Beaudine, chairman of the Texas-based search firm hired by the school, as the top candidate among 34 identified.
Twenty-eight percent of them, Sutton said, were women or "people of color."
"He strikes me as someone who's really going to involve people," Sutton told the committee.
"I'm sensing that we feel...UCF has come along, passed us and we're not elite like we were when we were first in the Big East. ... He will change that."
An Arizona alumnus, Harlan has served in various athletic administrative roles at four universities. The only candidate brought before the commmittee, his strengths are in fundraising and marketing, as well as mobilizing and exciting the local market, Sutton said.
"I think in terms what I'll bring to this region is a real sense of energy, a passion," Harlan told the four committee members in attendance (two listened via speakerphone).
"I absolutely love this industry, but I also love the campus. ... I've been a part of the overall university experience working with deans and coaches. It's a passion of mine. I can't imagine doing anything differently."
At UCLA, he helps oversee an athletic program with an 87-percent graduation rate, second in the Pac-12. Eliciting a line from legendary Bruins coach John Wooden, Harlan indicated the best motivator for a student-athlete not performing academically is the bench or sideline.
When asked, Harlan said USF's ability to position itself for a more prominent conference depends on the school "getting yourself as powerful as you can be."
What will he do his initial days on the job? "Listen, listen, listen, evaluate and act," Harlan said. "And make some decisions. I'm not one to shy away from decisions...I think there are some decisions to be made here, quite candidly.
"I want to get out in the community. I want to meet people, I want to hear from them. What's their experience? Why are they passionate? Why has anyone lost passion?"