Syracuse’s new athletic director is coming from ESPN.
The school said Wednesday it was hiring ESPN’s John Wildhack to replace Mark Coyle. Wildhack, a Syracuse graduate, is ESPN’s vice president for programming and production, a position he’s held since 2014.
“John is an entrepreneurial, outside-the-box leader who brings an unparalleled set of skills and experiences to the director of athletics position,” Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud said in a statement. “As a leader at ESPN, he has demonstrated a keen ability to identify and implement strategies aimed at elevating the entire organization. That record of success, combined with his extensive history of building and inspiring teams, will allow him to immediately and positively impact the lives of our student-athletes. This is a new day in the life of the Department of Athletics. I look forward to watching John, in collaboration with our talented coaches and staff, bring his bold vision for the department to life.”
Wildhack has been at ESPN for nearly the company’s entire existence and started as a production assistant. His ESPN bio credits him with direct involvement in the company’s programming contracts with many leagues and sports including college sports.
Given the power of sports among the evolving television and viewer landscape, Syracuse likely sees Wildhack as someone able to ensure the school (and ACC’s) television and production rights aren’t compromised in the future. Don’t forget that the ACC has been debating the merits of its own network for quite some time. Perhaps Wildhack could help convince ESPN that it would be a worthy partnership if the conference decided the network was the way to go.
Wildhack replaces Mark Coyle as Syracuse athletic director. Coyle left Syracuse for Minnesota.
“To say this is a dream job would be a significant understatement,” Wildhack said. “Syracuse University played a profound role in my life’s trajectory and I’m confident I wouldn’t be where I am without the education and opportunities this institution afforded me. To help my alma mater, in particular Syracuse student-athletes, continue to excel and grow, especially in light of the enormous investments being made, and that have been made in its facilities, is a tremendous responsibility and one I don’t take lightly. I am honored to have been selected and I look forward to collaborating with the amazing coaches and staff as we work to develop the whole student-athlete—inside and outside the classroom.”
He’s not the first major athletic director hire to come from a non-collegiate sports background. Former Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon was formerly the CEO of Domino’s, though he was also a member of the Michigan Board of Regents and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick was partner at a law firm before he became Notre Dame’s AD.
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