Mark Harlan Continues To Win Despite Financial Uncertainty Within Athletic Department

Sep 30, 2020, 3:25 PM | Updated: Oct 7, 2020, 8:32 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – University of Utah Athletics Director Mark Harlan wins, it is how he is built, it is in his DNA. So when news started surfacing that the University of Utah was considering a temporary move to the BIG 12 conference, it did not come as a surprise.

Win At All Costs

When Harlan took over from Dr. Chris Hill in 2018, I requested to meet with him. I wanted to learn more about the man who was leading the Athletic Departement that I had become so familiar with.

That meeting was telling.

Harlan reiterated on countless occasions the need to win. That the programs on the hill must showcase the ability to win while he is in office. It was important to him for more than one reason.

Firstly, winning puts teams in the spotlight, it attracts media coverage which results in more fans wanting to attend and more tickets being purchased. It also brings more money to the athletic department. When the women’s soccer team or the men’s basketball team makes it to the postseason NCAA tournament, the athletic department is rewarded financially because of it.

Winning also creates a positive workplace environment. When you win, you are generally happier.

Utah To The Big 12

It was reported by Tracy Pierson of that the University of Utah “threatened” to leave the Pac-12 and play a season in the Big 12 if the Pac-12 Conference could not find a way to play football in 2020.

For those that have not been keeping up with the happenings of College Football, the Pac-12 and Big 10 first decided that it was not safe enough to compete in fall sports in 2020, rather they will wait until January 1st, 2021 to make a decision on whether or not a winter/spring season is playable. However, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 never shied away from playing fall sports in 2020.

It was later reported that the reports surrounding Utah’s “threat” were inaccurate as UteZone received a message from a spokesperson up on the hill stating – “There is absolutely no truth to that report. It is incorrect.”

No Surprises Here

If Harlan truly believed that his fall athletic programs were ready to play and that the team doctors had provided enough reasoning to suggest that it was safe for the student-athletes to compete then why does it surprise you that Utah was ready to play Big 12 football in 2020?

Personally, I am more surprised that there weren’t more Pac-12 teams looking to do the same thing.

Prior to the news breaking that the Pac-12 is returning on November 6th, the Utah Athletic Departement was expecting to lose roughly $60 million in revenue this year. They had furloughed the majority of their staff and the financial future on the hill was daunting.

As a leader, it is Harlan’s responsibility to keep the Athletic Departement afloat and if that meant playing football on a temporary basis in another conference, then so be it.

Harlan has employees that are trying to pay mortgages and buy groceries for their families after all.

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