When Mark Harlan left UCLA four years ago to become the Athletic Director at the University of South Florida, many Bruin fans were glad to see him go. After all, he is the guy most people credit for bringing Steve Alford to UCLA. He is also the guy who tried to move the student seating section at Pauley Pavilion.
The result was the #SFatPauley campaign, which stood for Students First at Pauley. It was a grassroots movement that started here on Bruins Nation which helped force the Athletic Department to scrap plans to move the student section in Pauley Pavilion after the Pauley Renovation from the sidelines to behind the basket.
It was intended to be a giant money grab because the Athletic Department would then be able to sell tickets for those seating areas at higher prices to non-student fans.
But, thanks in large part to a BN member whose user name is MexiBruin, Harlan’s plan failed following a vote of the student body. To this day, Bruins Nation owes a debt of gratitude to MexiBruin and others for their efforts to stop Harlan’s plan.
When you also consider that Harlan convinced Steve Alford to abandon New Mexico shortly after agreeing to a contract extension, it should come as absolutely no surprise that Harlan has done the same thing now.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Harlan just signed a contract extension which would have kept him at USF until 2021. Howver, Harlan won’t be staying in South Florida, after all. That’s because Harlan was just hired as the new Athletic Director at the University of Utah.
Harlan is replacing Chris Hill, who officially retired Friday morning after 31 years as Utah’s AD. The Salt Lake Tribune suggests that “Harlan’s stellar history as a fundraiser might’ve played a role in him getting the job, while many considered Utah associate athletic director and Hill protege Kyle Brennan, the frontrunner for the position.”
Interestingly, the Salt Lake Tribune also contacted UCLA AD and Harlan’s former boss Dan Guerrero for a comment on his hiring by Utah. In typical Guerrero fashion, he gushed about his former employee without any concern for the fact, to many Bruin fans, Mark Harlan’s middle name will always be a four-letter word — and that word isn’t UCLA.
I’m extremely pleased to welcome Mark Harlan back to the Pac-12. Having worked with Mark for a number of years when he oversaw external affairs at UCLA, I know firsthand what an excellent hire this is for Utah. Mark is a great communicator, and a person and an administrator of high integrity. He and his family will be a tremendous addition to the Utah community. I look forward to working with him in the conference.
I’m just wondering if Harlan’s hiring means that he will be marketing Utah football and basketball tickets to UCLA fans they way he marketed Bruin basketball tickets to the fans of his alma mater Arizona.
I will conclude by saying that, if Harlan has designs on tearing up his new Utah contract to return to UCLA when Dan Guerrero finally retires, this website will fight his candidacy with every ounce of our being,
In the meantime, we feel the pain of Utah students, alums and fans who will now have to deal with Harlan.