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USF Athletic Director Harlan Leaves For Utah

Mark Harlan, who is leaving USF to become AD at Utah, poses with some of USF's student-athletes.

University of South Florida athletic director Mark Harlan, who had been the subject of rumors he was moving on to other jobs almost since the day he was hired four years ago, is taking the same job at Utah. 

Update 6/4 11:30 a.m. with details about interim AD & the search for a permanent replacement.

Harlan had signed a contract extension at USF last month. According to the terms of that deal, Harlan would owe USF half his base salary -- $262,500 -- if he resigns before July 1, 2020. 

Harlan put out a statement on Twitter Friday evening thanking a number of people, led by USF System President Judy Genshaft. 

Harlan's tweet came a short time after Genshaft put out a similar statement: 

"Over the past four years, Mark Harlan has made a valuable impact on the University of South Florida. We thank him for his contributions and we wish him the best. Mark implemented a strategic vision for USF Athletics, which has helped to raise our stature nationally, recruit top talent, and support the success of our teams and student-athletes in both competition and the classroom. This momentum will ensure that USF Athletics continues its strong trajectory forward. Details about an interim director of athletics and the search process will be announced in the near future." 

On Monday, USF said Scott Kull, the deputy athletic director for external operations, has been named interim director of athletics. He's been with USF since 2016.

Kull has nearly 25 years of experience in college athletics, including stints with TCU, Florida State, Ohio State, Georgia Tech and Florida.  He currently oversees the athletic department’s development, communications, marketing, ticket sales, corporate partnerships, broadcasting and digital strategy.

“In a short period of time, Scott has made a great impact on our athletic department. He understands the trajectory of USF Athletics and will ensure that we continue moving forward without interruption during the search process,” Genshaft said.

USF also said the search for a permanent AD will begin immediately and be led by Dr. Bill Sutton, a professor in the USF Muma College of Business and director of the Vinik Sport and Entertainment Management Program.

Harlan joined USF in March 2014 after serving as senior associate AD for external relations at UCLA. 

USF's teams won 12 American Athletic Conference titles under Harlan. He hired Charlie Strong as football coach after Willie Taggart left for Oregon in late 2016. The Bulls went 21-4 over the last two seasons, with back-to-back wins in the Birmingham Bowl.

He also hired and fired men's basketball coach Orlando Antigua, who posted a record of 23-55 in two and a half seasons. The basketball team was also under NCAA investigation for possible academic fraud, but managed to avoid major penalties.

The women's basketball team was more successful, making the NCAA Tournament all four years Harlan was at USF. Coach Jose Fernandez, the longest serving and most successful coach in USF women's basketball history, signed a contract extension last year that will keep him at USF through 2023. 

USF's student-athletes also have had success in the classroom. All 16 of its programs posted Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores of 952 or better for the third consecutive year in 2017-18, with a program record 86 percent graduation success rate in 2016.

However, USF's ambitions of joining a Power Five conference never came into fruition under Harlan, as the Big 12 decided not to add any teams in 2016 when USF was among 11 programs under consideration.

In addition, Harlan launched USF's study into the feasibility of an on-campus football stadium, with the largest question being how such a project would be funded. 

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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