New USF Athletic Dir. Mark Harlan 'Here to Win'
Saying that "winning everything" is what drives him, new University of South Florida Athletic Director Mark Harlan is promising to hit the ground running.
The 44-year-old, who currently serves as UCLA's Senior Associate Athletic Director, was named USF's A.D. Tuesday.
He takes over a program in which the "marquee sports" - football and men's basketball - have struggled over the last few years. The Bulls football team went 2-10 last season and hasn't been to a bowl game in three seasons, while the men's basketball team enters this week's American Athletic Conference (AAC) tournament as the 10th seed out of 10 teams.
Nevertheless, Harlan called the job "one of the greatest opportunities in college athletics." Speaking to reporters Tuesday, he promised to strive to turn those fortunes around.
"We're going to work hard everyday to provide the best student-athlete experience in college athletics. That means providing cutting-edge academic support, welfare services for our students, the largest crowds, the greatest coaches and teachers, and all with integrity and class," Harlan said.
"And let me be very clear to all, are not here to make excuses, we are here to graduate our student athletes, help them win conference and national titles, and that's what's going to drive us," he added.
Harlan beat out over thirty other candidates to replace Doug Woolard, who announced his retirement in January. Woodward, who's been athletic director since 2004, will assist with the transition until his contract expires in July 2015.
Harlan's contract is for five years with an annual base salary of $500,000, along with possible performance bonuses. He's expected to start at USF April 7.
Harlan has been with UCLA since July 2010. Before that, he worked in the athletic departments of his alma mater, the University of Arizona, as well as at Northern Colorado and San Jose State.
Here are three more items to take away from Harlan's initial press conference:
1. He'll worry about USF getting into a more prestigious conference than the AAC after USF performs better.
"We need to worry about winning everything in that conference for all the sports. We need to worry about ourselves. We need to worry about looking in the mirror, what can we do to win everything we do, fill every venue we have, and when that happens, then if change happens, we'll be right there on the forefront. But right now, we're going to work day, night, and tirelessly to win everything in this conference."
2. An on-campus football stadium? Harlan's not immune to the idea...again, down the line.
"We like to say at UCLA, if you're going to have to rent a stadium, it might as well be the Rose Bowl. (At USF), to play at such a beautiful (Raymond James) Stadium, an NFL arena...I'm sure that's a fun thing to recruit to."
"I would certainly like to find out what the conversations are about (an on-campus stadium)...but I think right now what I really want to do is work with (head football) coach Willie Taggert and see what we can do, where we're at right now to get that (team) going. I look forward to working with him."
3. Harlan will bring some of the methods of legendary UCLA Bruins basketball coach John Wooden with him to USF.
"The Pyramid of Success is something I follow very closely, the Wooden Academy, which is where we put all the student-athletes at UCLA through the values and teachings, I'm going to work hard on that."
"The whole person is so important to me - it's why I'm in intercollegiate athletics. The student-athlete's ability to feel good about their overall experience, that translates into how he or she competes, so we'll definitely have some of that as we go forward."