New Utah State AD sets sights on Mountain West championships

LOGAN, Utah (AP) Newly hired Utah State athletic director John Hartwell said the Aggies will win multiple Mountain West championships in multiple sports.

Hartwell was introduced as the new head of athletics at the Wayne Estes Center on Wednesday and didn't hesitate to set high expectations for on-field performance and growth throughout the department. Utah State joined the reorganized Mountain West in 2013 and has yet to earn a league trophy in any sport. Hartwell promised that will change.

''We are going to win,'' Hartwell said. ''If winning were not so important we would not spend so much money, nor would any university in this country, on nice scoreboards. Winning is important. We are going to win.''

The former Troy athletic director touched on a variety of subjects, including recruiting, the continued improvement of facilities, developing additional revenue sources and enhancing the fan experience at home games.

Hartwell acknowledged budget challenges, but says that will not keep the Aggies from competing in the Mountain West and against national programs.

''If you don't think big-time college athletics is not an arms race, you're kidding yourself,'' Hartwell said. ''What we've got to do is be smart about how we go about that arms race. Yes, we've got to continue having a short-term vision in getting projects done, but a long-term vision in saying, `How can we stay on the cutting edge from a recruiting standpoint?' The term I like to use is the `wow' factor. We've got to make sure that in all our facilities, we've got the wow factor.

Utah State President Stan Albrecht emphasized Hartwell rose to the top of a deep nationwide candidate pool and the focus was building on top of an established foundation.

''We weren't looking to fix something,'' Albrecht said. ''We wanted someone who could come and recognize that foundation, but then be in a place to take us to the next level.''

Hartwell said he plans for the department to be among the best in the state and the conference - and if that happens, it will be in the national conversation. He added the department will prioritize being creative in developing revenue streams. Hartwell spent nine years as the senior executive associate athletics director at Ole Miss, where they dealt with a lower-tier Southeastern Conference budget. At Troy, Harwell worked in the shadows of Alabama and Auburn.

''The way I like to operate is with a little chip on the shoulder,'' Harwell said. ''I kind of like our staff, our student-athletes to operate with a little chip on their shoulder. Our budget may not be as large as the University of Utah's, but we're going to find ways to not only compete, but beat them and with all the big boys.''

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