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Mark Harlan - Utah Athletic Director
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Utah AD Mark Harlan Posts Message He Shared With Student-Athletes

University of Utah's new Athletics Director Mark Harlan leaves the field at Rice Eccles Stadium on Monday, June 4, 2018. (Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – University of Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan posted a message on Twitter that he shared with his student-athletes earlier on Tuesday.

Harlan shared his thoughts and feelings about the recent events with the death of George Floyd.

Here is the full message from Mark Harlan to his student-athletes.

“Dear Utah Student-Athletes:

As we prepared diligently for many of you to return to campus on June 15, excited about the opportunity to see you after such a long absence, a horrific arrest and death took place on the streets of Minneapolis,” Harlan wrote. “George Floyd was killed by an officer of the Minneapolis Police Department. His murder follows the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor in Louisville and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and countless others that never made national headlines.”

“My excitement of seeing all of you in the weeks ahead was quickly overshadowed by my own horror, anger, confusion and frankly, deep sadness,” Harlan continued. “Immediately, my thoughts turned to you, our incredible student-athletes from a diverse set of backgrounds and life experiences, worried about your safety but also concerned how you must be feeling. Specifically, my thoughts focused on our African-American student-athletes, who once again had to witness yet another unjustified murder of a black man or woman. It is simply heartbreaking.”

“As a leader of Utah Athletics, I have spent the last week looking in the mirror. Asking myself, ‘what have I truly done to be a part of the solution? What have I been unwilling to do or, even more troubling, what have I been unaware of right in front of me?”‘ Harlan wrote. “We are all involved in sports, where team dynamics in most cases ignore race for the goals of winning in competition and succeeding in the classroom and in life. We are trained to work together to accomplish the lofty goals we set for ourselves and our teams. In a way, it is the dream roadmap for our society. Perhaps it is also the reason that I let down my guard and didn’t see clearly enough the pain and anguish that has been going on.”

“But that changes now for me,” Harlan wrote. “Today, we began what will be a series of conversations with you to let your voices be heard, to work with our administration to create programming that will help facilitate change in our community. On a Zoom session held today with our Utes Talking Equality and Social Justice Group (U.T.E.S Group), many of our African-American students, and others, expressed their frustrations as well as constructive thoughts on how we, as teams, and the entire Athletics Department, can best move forward. We need more voices to engage and I encourage all of you to be involved as the forums and conversations continue. I sensed some small relief and, perhaps, the beginning of healing, from those who spoke today and I am so grateful for their willingness to share their innermost thoughts.”

“I have come to understand that this is not an African-American problem. Rather, this is an American problem that demands for all of us to be a part of the solution. We have a platform as recognized members of our community to let our voices, but more importantly, our actions, be heard,” Harlan continued. “Along with the Pac-12, we will work to enhance and/or create new student leadership groups that reflect diversity to ensure all point of views are heard. If your voices have not been heard in the past, I own that responsibility and I apologize. I expect all of you to hold me, our coaches, our staff, and your fellow student-athletes accountable for taking our words into concrete action. The time is now.”

Harlan has recently shared his thoughts along with the other 11 Pac-12 Athletic Directors in a joint statement as well as a statement from university leadership.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.