Athletic Director Hot Board

We take a look at possible replacements for Arizona Athletic Director Greg Byrne.

Before we introduce the Athletic Director Hot Board, the key is that as of now we have no idea who is making the hire. President Ann Weaver Hart has about a year left on her contract, but it makes no sense to let her do the hire.

Does Arizona form a sub committee? Do the Regents make the hire? We truly don’t know, but hopefully we get a clearer perspective in the next few days.

Mark Harlan, South Florida Athletic Director

This is currently the name we’re hearing the most and within minutes of the news of Byrne leaving got out, Harlan’s name was all over the internet. He has been the Athletic Director at USF since 2014.

Harlan came to USF after previously serving as Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations at UCLA, where he played an integral role in hiring Steve Alford Jim Mora.

Harlan’s accomplishments at UCLA, which he joined in 2010, included assisting with raising more than $125 million in annual fund and campaign gifts. Successfully managing a 2012 completion to the $137 million campaign to renovate iconic Pauley Pavilion, he also reorganized the structure of the major giving program and annual fund, leading to a record number of donors and dollars raised in 2013.

Heavily involved in the negotiations with the City of Pasadena to enable a $200 million renovation of the Rose Bowl Stadium, in his four years at UCLA, the Bruins won 11 Pac-12 Conference championships and four national championships. In addition, UCLA’s student-athlete graduation rate stood at 87 percent, second in the Pac-12 Conference behind only Stanford, upon his departure.

Prior to his time at UCLA, Harlan served as the Senior Vice President for Central Development at the University of Arizona Foundation.  While there, the Foundation recorded two record years in dollars raised and number of gifts on behalf of the university.

Harlan has also served in Associate Athletic Director roles at San Jose State and Northern Colorado.

He graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a master’s degree in Education.

Doug Knuth. Nevada Athletic Director

Knuth has been at Nevada for four years and has made quite the impact. In addition, Arizona baseball coach Jay Johnson speaks very highly of him as well. 

Knuth helped fundraise for an $11.5 million renovation to 50-year-old Mackay Stadium. The initial piece of the project was completed in 2015 and the major phase is in place for the 2016 season.

Nevada also saw new facilities come on board for the tennis and track programs, with six new on-campus tennis courts and a new throws facility. The projects came on the heels of new FieldTurf installation at Wolf Pack Park, locker room upgrades for women’s soccer, track and field, cross country, football and both basketball programs, as well as an enhanced indoor golf training center. Future planned projects include new basketball practice facilities, Peccole Park upgrades, and an indoor turf practice facility, among others. 

Knuth has overseen both of Nevada’s Mountain West championships t date, with both coming from coaches hired by Knuth – baseball in 2015 and swimming/diving in 2016. Other Knuth hires have already made their mark as well. His first coaching hire, Kathleen Takaishi, led the Pack to its first tournament win in 13 years during the 2014-15 season. First-year coaches in 2015-16, Lee Nelson guided the volleyball team to its most conference victories, basketball coach Eric Musselman took the Pack from nine wins to 24 and a CBI championship, and T.J. Bruce led Nevada to a spot in the Mountain West championship game. 

Prior to Nevada, Knuth spent the previous eight years at the University of Utah as the Senior Associate Athletics Director for External Relations. He led Utah to record fundraising in each of the last seven years. He led the Utes' fundraising, marketing and ticketing efforts and oversaw the corporate partner program and athletics licensing/merchandising. 

He successfully launched a $150 million comprehensive athletics campaign and doubled the Utes' annual fund in five years. Knuth also took a leadership role in the strategic planning process of Utah's $1.2 billion university capital campaign. He is a member of the prestigious I-A Athletic Director's Association Fellows Program, served on the NCAA Tennis Committee from 2007-10 and has held leadership roles in the National Association of Athletic Development Directors since 2010. 

Prior to Utah, Knuth served as the assistant athletics director for development at Michigan State for five years and was responsible for the annual giving program. 

He started his career in athletics administration and fundraising at the University of Connecticut and also spent time at the University of Massachusetts and Ohio University. Knuth earned his bachelor's degree in business administration at the University of Connecticut in 1994 where he was also a four-year letter winner and captain on the men's tennis team. 

Jim Bartko, Fresno State Athletic Director 

Bartko took office on Jan. 1, 2015. He has previously served as executive senior associate athletic director at the University of Oregon prior to coming to Fresno State, where he was born.

At Oregon, Bartko served on the Athletics Executive Committee and was responsible for the planning, development and oversight of the day-to-day operations of the athletics department. He managed all development efforts, ticket operations, major gifts and group sales.

He had sport supervision responsibility for men's and women's golf, volleyball, men's and women's track and field and cross country. He assisted with daily operations of men's basketball and football, which include travel, postseason play and marketing campaigns.

Bartko also had direct oversight of the Nike all-sports contract and its fulfillment of the uniform and equipment needs for all 19 sports, as well as all equipment room operations.

Among his accomplishments at Oregon include raising over $375 million for capital improvements and facility enhancements at the University of Oregon, including the recently completed Hatfield Dowlin Complex, Matthew Knight Arena and John E. Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes.

He supervised all aspects of the $227 million Matthew Knight Arena project, including fundraising, design and construction, management of legal and financial issues, development of the business model, seating relocation and marketing and external communications.

He proposed, developed and implemented the Athletics Legacy Fund, which has created a $140 million endowment to ensure the financial stability of Oregon's athletic department.

Bartko started his career in 1989 as a regional director and fundraiser for the Duck Athletic Fund at the University of Oregon and advanced into assistant and associate athletic director roles. In 2006-07, he moved to the University of California, Berkeley, where he was senior associate athletic director for development.

He returned to Oregon as senior associate athletic director and in 2008 was advanced to executive senior athletic director.

Frank Busch, National Team Director for USA Swimming 

Frank Busch is a national team and Olympic swimming coach from the USA. He was a coach for the USA Olympic teams in 2004 and 2008.

In May 2011 he began serving as USA Swimming's National Team Director. Prior to USA Swimming, Busch was the Swimming Head Coach for Arizona from 1989 to 2011.

During his collegiate coaching career, Busch was named Coach of the Year by: the NCAA six times, Pac-10 11 times, USA Swimming (1998) and the USOC (1998). During his coaching career at the University of Arizona, his swimmers won 49 NCAA individual titles, 31 NCAA relay titles, and 2 NCAA team championships. 

While at Arizona, he also led Tucson Ford Aquatics (previously Hillenbrand Aquatics) to several national team championships. In 2008, he was inducted into the ASCA Hall of Fame.

Busch was previously in the running for Athletic Director when Greg Byrne was hired and should he enter his name into the fold again, would likely have that same support.

Mike Ketcham, Arizona Senior Associate Athletic Director

Mike Ketcham is in his sixth year overall with Arizona Athletics, and second as Senior Associate Athletics Director for Men’s Basketball and Football Administration & Major Gifts, a position to which he was promoted in the summer of 2014. Prior to that appointment, he served as Associate Athletics Director for Major Gifts for four years.

Ketcham is in his fifth year overall as sport administrator for the Arizona men’s basketball, men’s golf and women’s golf programs.

In his current role, Ketcham oversees the day-to-day operations of the Wildcats’ men’s basketball, football, men’s golf and women’s golf programs, including budgets, scheduling, travel, personnel matters, compliance and fundraising.

Ketcham is a member of Arizona Athletics’ Executive Council, advising Vice President for Athletics Greg Byrne on upper echelon matters concerning the department. He is also actively engaged in identifying, cultivating and securing major gifts for the department’s fundraising arm, the Wildcat Club.

In Ketcham’s tenure with the department, he has played an integral fundraising role in two major capital campaign projects undertaken by Arizona Athletics.

Ketcham’s background also includes extensive fundraising experience as both a championship-winning collegiate golf coach and a high school athletic director.

Tom Bowen, Memphis Athletic Director

Bowen has fundraised a record amount for the Memphis athletics department

He played an integral role in the formation of the American Athletic Conference and was instrumental in bringing the league's first men's basketball tournament to the Bluff City in March of 2014.

Under his direction, Memphis is in the final phases of a $40 million capital campaign and took only a year to raise the money.

As part of a fundraising campaign in December of 2013, Interim President Brad Martin and Tom Bowen announced a $10 million lead gift, which helped with a new men’s basketball practice and training facility and a football indoor practice complex.

Construction on the men’s basketball practice facility and museum started in July of 2016, with construction on the football facility starting in Fall of 2016.

Additionally, he oversaw fundraising for the Elma Roane Fieldhouse -- home to Memphis women's basketball and volleyball – where improvements were completed, including a state-of-the-art weight room, a four-lane training track, an elevated cardio platform, players' lounge and an enlarged training room with Grimm Tubs-hydroponic pools for injury rehabilitation.

In November of 2012, Bowen secured a multi-million dollar gift from the Helen and Jabie Hardin Charitable Trust to support women's athletics, the largest gift for women’s athletics in the history of the University of Memphis.

Bowen’s respect from his colleagues, along with his experience and knowledge of football, were pivotal in landing him a position on the College Football Playoff organization’s Athletic Directors Advisory Council in early 2014. Previously, he served on the Athletic Directors Advisory Board of the BCS in 2013.

Bowen was voted to represent the American Athletic Conference on the NCAA Division I Leadership Council by his fellow Conference athletics directors in July, 2014. The NCAA Leadership Council is comprised of athletics directors, faculty representatives and conference commissioners from every Division I conference, and serves as an advisory body to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.

The turnaround of the football program has been astounding in Bowen’s tenure as athletics director. The Tigers won the 2014 American Athletic Conference crown, the program’s first league title since 1971. The 2014 Memphis squad also won the program’s first bowl game since 2005. The 2015 Tigers started the season 8-0 and were ranked as high as No. 13 in the national polls.

As a result of the football program’s success, Memphis experienced an 18-percent increase in attendance from 2013 to 2014. Since Bowen’s arrival, the average game attendance has risen from 20,078 in 2011 – the season prior to him coming to Memphis – to 33,851 in 2014 and 43,802 in 2015, a more than 100 percent increase over his short tenure.

The men’s basketball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament third round in each of Bowen’s first two years. The 2013-14 season also saw the basketball program rank in the top-10 in home attendance in NCAA Division I basketball for the fifth time in the last eight years.

Prior to taking his current post, Bowen served as the athletics director at San Jose State University from 2004-12.

Bowen's proven administrative and managerial record at San Jose State resulted in national appointments in college athletics. He served as one of eight Football Bowl Subdivision directors of athletics on the 24-member NCAA Division I Football Issues Committee, an appointment that ended in 2011.

In 2009, Bowen was one of 12 named to serve as a mentor to aspiring women and ethnic minority athletics administrators in the NCAA Fellows Leadership Program. He was the Tournament Director for the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Division I Championship first and second rounds games played in San Jose.

Bowen joined the staff at San Jose State after serving three years as the Director of Community Affairs and the executive director of the 49ers Foundation for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League

Hunter Yurachek, Houston Vice President for Athletics

Hunter Yurachek was named Vice President of Athletics at the University of Houston on April 28, 2015. Yurachek joined the University of Houston Athletics Department as the Associate Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Athletics in February of 2014.

In his role at Houston, Yurachek oversees an NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports program comprising of 17 varsity sports programs, 425 student-athletes, 175 employees and a $45 million operational budget.

In his first year in the role, Houston recorded its highest finish in the Learfield Directors' Cup since 1999-2000 and its second-highest finish in school history with 296.5 points to finish 73rd nationally.

The 2015-16 academic year saw the Houston Football program capture The American Athletic Conference Championship and a Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl win over Florida State, the Houston Men's Track & Field program win The American Indoor and Outdoor Championships and the Houston Women's Golf program claim an American Championship in only its second year with a full team. 

In addition, the Men's Basketball program returned to the NCAA postseason for the 29th time in program history and the Men's Golf program advanced to the NCAA Championships for the third straight year.

All of the athletic achievements occurred while UH student-athletes recorded the second-best fall GPA, 2.91, and second-best spring GPA, 2.87, in athletic department history while placing a record 88 student-athletes on the University's Dean's Honor List in the spring.

Yurachek led the Houston Athletics fundraising charge with a record amount $5.2 million in private donations to the Athletics general scholarship fund in the 2014-15 fiscal year. 

Yurachek has also led a department that unveiled the completed Guy V. Lewis Development Center for the Houston Men's and Women's Basketball programs, Carolyn and Ron Yokubaitis Field at Carl Lewis International Track & Field Complex, one of the nation's largest collegiate baseball video boards, a renovated Houston Football locker room and a short game facility for the Houston Men's and Women's Golf programs.

Named by Chancellor Dr. Renu Khator as Chair for a campus-wide steering committee established to oversee the grand opening events for the $128 million TDECU Stadium, Yurachek assisted in the cultivation, solicitation and securing of a 10-year, $15 million-naming rights agreement for TDECU Stadium with the per year value currently ranking in the top ten nationally for collegiate venue naming rights agreements.

Yurachek was instrumental in the national search and hiring of football and men and women’s basketball head coaches (Tom Herman, Kelvin Sampson, Ronald Hughey) while overseeing the development and implementation of a $500,000 remodeling project to the men and women’s basketball locker rooms.

He served as liaison with an architectural design firm on the plans for the $25-million Houston Basketball Development facility as well as overseeing the development and implementation of a $500,000 facility enhancement to the Athletics/Alumni Center, including the addition of Cougar Cafe, a student-athlete nutrition center.

Yurachek came to Houston after serving four years as Director of Athletics at Coastal Carolina University. Under Yurachek's leadership, the Chanticleers won a total of 29 Big South Championships (both regular season and tournament championships), made 30 NCAA appearances and finished a program-best 79th in the 2012-13 Learfield Director's Cup.

Prior to his appointment at Coastal Carolina University, Yurachek was executive senior associate athletics director at the University of Akron. He led and managed the Zips' external relations unit, which included marketing and promotions, media relations, ticket operations, development (Z-Fund), video operations and merchandising. In addition, he was the sport administrator for men's basketball, men's golf and women's golf and worked closely with the football program.

Yurachek has also held various athletics administration leadership positions at the University of Virginia, Western Carolina University, Vanderbilt University and Wake Forest University.

Other names to watch: Bill Chaves (Eastern Washington), Mike Bobinski (Purdue), John Hartwell (Utah State), Chris Del Conte (TCU)

Wildcat Authority Top Stories