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SU announces new athletic director following Coyle's departure after less than one year

Tom Magnarelli
Dan French, the current acting athletics director at SU, speaks with reporters after the announcement.

Syracuse University has hired a new athletic director, after its previous one, Mark Coyle, left after less than one year on the job. University officials hope the new athletic director will be staying much longer. John Wildhack is an SU alumnus and executive vice president at ESPN in programming and production.

Dan French, the current acting athletics director at SU, said the process of hiring Wildhack for the position moved quickly, despite the fact Wildhack does not have the experience of running a school’s athletic department.  

“We are comfortable that John, having been at ESPN for 30-plus years, having negotiated with schools personally and run different elements at ESPN, he knows this world," French said. "He knows this world which he will be entering.”

French said big decisions, such as hiring coaches, are often made in groups.

“So it’s not as if he’ll be alone in these areas,” French said.

While not the deciding factor, Wildhack does have local ties. Rick Burton, SU’s faculty athletics representative for the ACC and NCAA said he does not see Wildhack using the new position as a stepping stone to something greater.

“He knows the area, he’s from Buffalo originally, he knows upstate," Burton said.

Burton said Wildhack’s experience with traditional, social and digital media will position the school towards the future of college sports.

“His marketing and production background is going to be perfect for saying we can do things differently and we can do things if not better, I think with a greater footprint,” Burton said.

A footprint needed to continue SU’s vision of being a successful academic and athletic private university, Burton says, in the same way as Stanford or Notre Dame. A public event will be held Tuesday on the SU campus to introduce Wildhack.