(via USF Communications) - University of South Florida Director of Athletics Mark Harlan has signed a continuing three-year contract that will keep him leading the Bulls’ athletic program through at least the 2020-21 school year.
“Mark has done a terrific job of implementing a strategic vision for USF Athletics and cultivating a top-level environment in which our student-athletes are thriving and achieving great success in the classroom and in competition,” University of South Florida System President Judy Genshaft said. “I look forward to continued excellence in USF Athletics under Mark’s leadership.”
Harlan is completing his fourth year leading the Bulls’ athletics program after being named director of athletics in March of 2014. He has overseen a highly successful period for USF student-athletes in competition, the classroom and the community as well as a surge in fundraising and donor support.
“It is an honor to lead USF Athletics and to work alongside our tremendous student-athletes, coaches and staff in pursuing excellence here every day,” Harlan said. “I am thankful for and humbled by the support of President Genshaft and the Board of Trustees and look forward to continuing to work with campus colleagues, community partners and our great Bulls supporters as, together, we elevate USF Athletics to new heights. I am committed to working hard with the finest staff, coaches and student-athletes in the country as we work to ensure that every student-athlete has a world-class experience at USF.”
The Bulls have earned 12 conference championships since 2014, including four in the 2016-17 season that marked the program’s most since 2000. Nine programs have achieved a Top 25 national ranking during Harlan’s tenure, including a record 20 straight Top 25 poll appearances by the football program.
The football team has posted a 21-4 record the last two seasons, including the program’s highest-ever season win totals with 11 victories in 2016 and 10 in 2017. The Bulls have made three straight bowl game appearances, including back-to-back victories over SEC and Big 12 opponents, and finished the last two seasons ranked in the Top 25.
The women’s basketball team achieved its first-ever Top 25 ranking and has since become a staple in the Top 25 while recording a program-record fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018. The men’s tennis team has won four straight conference championships and reached the program’s first-ever NCAA Sweet 16 in 2015, while men’s golf has claimed three straight conference titles and reached its first-ever NCAA final eight.
Women’s tennis has won a pair of conference titles since 2014 and women’s soccer claimed its first-ever conference title in 2017, while making its third NCAA Tournament appearance in four years. Softball claimed a conference title in 2016 and has made two NCAA appearances since 2014, while baseball reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 13 seasons in 2015 and returned again in 2017, one of 10 Bulls’ programs to reach national postseason competition in the 2016-17 season. USF also posted a record point total (350) in the 2016 Learfield Sports Director’s Cup standings, an across-the-board measurement of athletic department success.
In the classroom, USF student-athletes are in the midst of a program-record string of six straight semesters of a cumulative grade-point average above 3.0 and have posted a Graduation Success Rate above 80 percent for four straight years, including a program-record 86 percent in 2016. In the fall semester of 2017, 247 student-athletes earned a 3.0 GPA or better representing nearly 60 percent of all USF student-athletes.
In the community, USF student-athletes and staff have increased their presence in the Tampa Bay region by logging a record 5,025 hours of service in the community during the 2016-17 year.
Support for USF Athletics is also at an all-time high as the Bulls posted their best-ever annual fundraising total in 2016-17, eclipsing the previous high mark by 300 percent. In the fall of 2017, USF opened the Fishman Family Student-Athlete Enrichment Center, a $750,000 state-of-the-art facility dedicated to academic achievement and student-athlete welfare. USF also announced plans for a new $40-million USF Football Center on campus, which was followed shortly by an $8 million gift to Athletics from Pam and Les Muma, the largest gift in program history.
USF has also entered into a groundbreaking, 10-year multimedia rights partnership with Tampa Bay Entertainment Properties (TBEP), a Tampa Bay entity controlled by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik. The Bulls struck a new eight-year partnership with adidas to be the official footwear, apparel and accessory brand of the Bulls starting in July and launched the USF Bulls Unlimited channel on iHeart Radio, one of the nation’s first 24/7 digital radio stations dedicated to a college athletics program.
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