Building on Success, A CollegeAD Conversation with John Hartwell

June 17th, 2019 | by CollegeAD
Building on Success, A CollegeAD Conversation with John Hartwell
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john hartwell
“There are a lot of great things happening with Utah State Athletics, obviously football and men’s basketball have had great success, but probably our greatest accomplishment is the graduation success rate. A 94% graduation success rate.” -John Hartwell

John Hartwell’s vision for Utah State Athletic embodies maximum effort academically, athletically and socially to ensure success in both the classroom and on the field of competition. With a soaring graduation rate and success both on and off the field, he’s seeing his vision put into practice.

“That’s what we are in the business of doing, educating young men and women in our programs, we are really, really proud of that,” he says.

Hartwell tells CollegeAD that having a football and men’s basketball team in the top 25 of the AP polls was also telling of the school’s success. Utah State was only one of 5 schools to do so.

“We do not think this is a one-time deal, we have a solid foundation for continued success.”

Now in his fourth year leading the Utah State department, John Hartwell explains that even with the change in leadership in the football program, new head coach, Gary Andersen, did not have a steep learning curve. Andersen replaced Matt Wells who went on to Texas Tech. However, Andersen has already served at the helm of Utah State football, from 2009 to 2012 and broke a 14-year bowl-less streak in 2011.

john hartwell“Obviously, Gary was the one a decade back that really started the resurgence of Utah State football. We believe that the coaching staff that he’s assembled, the talent of the young players, we believe we have every chance to be as successful as last year.”

Hartwell explains that when Matt Wells left, they had great interest from leaders in all levels of football, from college to the NFL. He calls it a deep and talented pool, but as they went through the process with Andersen, it became clear he was the correct coach for the program.

“Listening to the guys who have played for him, hearing his passion. He admitted he chased the dollar to Wisconsin and Oregon State, said he learned a lot along the way and had great experiences, he believed Utah State was where he belongs. So, did we.”

Looking to the basketball side of things, he says probably 10 minutes into his first meeting with Craig Smith, he knew this was the man for the job.

“He’s a perfect fit, I knew it, but if you’d told me the day we hired him that we were going to go 28 and 7 and win the Mountain West Championship and advance to the NCAA Championship, I might have said, ‘well let’s take one step at a time,’ but it became a reality.”

Hartwell says have the leadership side of the sports programs taken care of has given him time to focus on other aspects, like fundraising and facilities.

“The success we’ve had this year is great but it‘s not sustainable if we don’t continue to grow our revenues long term. You have to strike while the iron is hot, and with the success, we’ve had this year, it’s time to strike.”

He says they are entering year four of the West Stadium Project, a $40 million-dollar undertaking. Renovations to Maverik Stadium have focused on greatly improving the overall fan experience.

“This has made a difference to the fans and to the University as a whole, the west side project has been transformative.”

On the west side, a new three-story premium seating and press box structure now include a state-of-the-art media and game operations area, 24 luxury suites, 20 loge boxes, over 700 covered club seats and a premium club area that will also be used to host a student-athlete training table. Major concourse work has increased restrooms, upgraded concessions and an enlarged concourse for better pedestrian traffic flow. Hartwell says they aren’t stopping there. john hartwell

“We are also looking at renovating the football locker rooms, redoing the turf, we’ve got some softball improvements we are looking at. But really the biggest thing on the horizon is the basketball arena. It’s a great space for basketball, but it’s 50 years old.”

John Hartwell explains that Spectrum Stadium does present some challenges and he says after looking into it for the past 18 months, the renovation will be 80% of building a new arena.

“We are looking more down the line of building a new arena, and that’s not a one- or two-year deal. We are honing in on what a new arena would look like. We are fleshing out those opportunities, but we have a way to go.”

Hartwell says “right now” focus for the upcoming fall is getting student-athletes ready for the semester, doing everything they can to make the transition smooth.

“That’s why we are here, we do everything we can to prepare them for their next years at Utah State.”

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