Like a West Central Florida summer afternoon lightning bolt, USF athletic director Mark Harlan, fresh off getting a new contract extension in April, is leaving for the same job at the University of Utah.
A Salt Lake City radio host was the first to break the story about Harlan’s connection to the Pac 12 school:
To clarify last tweet, hearing that it is all but done – Mark Harlan will be the next AD at Utah.
— Scott Garrard (@ScottyG1280) June 1, 2018
Then, about an hour later the University confirmed the hire via email blast and it’s website. The school stated that Harlan (shown above with former Bulls coach Willie Taggart) will be introduced in a Monday morning news conference in Salt Lake City:
— University of Utah (@UUtah) June 1, 2018
As we wrote on the day of his contract extension announcement in Tampa, Harlan’s departure, due to his rise in accomplishment and the lack of competitive revenue/funding at USF (and other non-Power Five schools) made his departure almost inevitable.
But, even we at F.F.I. didn’t foresee him agreeing to the extension, and then before you could even spell U-T-E-S, taking a job somewhere else.
Alas, apparently a return to the Pac-12 conference, where Harlan was formerly an assistant AD at UCLA, with a larger bump in pay and huge money at his disposal was too much to pass up on this week.
Harlan’s raise announced in April was to $525,000 annually, but that is well short of most large conference athletic director salaries.
For example, as this August of 2017 online compilation shows, most of the “Power Five” ADs make well over $700,000 a year and the top 15 of this list average over $1 million per year.
Interestingly, with Harlan agreeing to the new contract in late April, it increased his buyout to leave USF to $265,000 if he did so before July 1, 2020.
The bigger concern is whether Harlan exiting signals that football coach Charlie Strong will be right behind him after this season.
Take into account that Charlie Strong was hired at an extreme discount for his first two years of his USF deal, because Texas is paying most of his $5 million salary, and Bulls fans ought to get very concerned, now.
And it doesn’t help matters that we keep hearing that Strong has been privately and at times, publicly, complaining to anyone who will listen, about USF’s lack of indoor practice and football only facilities. And he’s been frequently bringing up their charter travel, lack of attendance at Raymond James Stadium for games, etc., etc.
Further, according to one source close to things at USF, Strong constantly projects like a man biding his time until December, when his Texas money is up, and he, then, can jump back into an SEC, ACC, Big XII, etc. job again, for the same level of pay with all the facilities and budget.
So, the Green and Gold have lost their AD, and now, will Charlie Strong be next?
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