University of South Florida athletic director Mark Harlan, who had been the subject of rumors he was moving on to other jobs almost since the day he was hired four years ago, is taking the same job at Utah.
Harlan had signed a contract extension at USF last month. According to the terms of that deal, Harlan would owe USF half his base salary -- $262,500 -- if he resigns before July 1, 2020.
Harlan put out a statement on Twitter Friday evening thanking a number of people, led by USF System President Judy Genshaft.
Leading USF Athletics has been the greatest honor of my career and I cant thank Dr. Genshaft enough. The student-athletes, coaches and staff at USF are all champions. Thanks to them and the amazing fans and donors here, the future is so bright. Forever grateful to Bulls Nation!— Mark Harlan (@MarkHarlanUSF) June 1, 2018
Harlan's tweet came a short time after Genshaft put out a similar statement:
"Over the past four years, Mark Harlan has made a valuable impact on the University of South Florida. We thank him for his contributions and we wish him the best. Mark implemented a strategic vision for USF Athletics, which has helped to raise our stature nationally, recruit top talent, and support the success of our teams and student-athletes in both competition and the classroom. This momentum will ensure that USF Athletics continues its strong trajectory forward. Details about an interim director of athletics and the search process will be announced in the near future."
Harlan joined USF in March 2014 after serving as senior associate AD for external relations at UCLA.
USF's teams won 12 American Athletic Conference titles under Harlan. He hired Charlie Strong as football coach after Willie Taggart left for Oregon in late 2016. The Bulls went 21-4 over the last two seasons, with back-to-back wins in the Birmingham Bowl.
He also hired and fired men's basketball coach Orlando Antigua, who posted a record of 23-55 in two and a half seasons. The basketball team was also under NCAA investigation for possible academic fraud, but managed to avoid major penalties.
The women's basketball team was more successful, making the NCAA Tournament all four years Harlan was at USF. Coach Jose Fernandez, the longest serving and most successful coach in USF women's basketball history, signed a contract extension last year that will keep him at USF through 2023.
USF's student-athletes also have had success in the classroom. All 16 of its programs posted Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores of 952 or better for the third consecutive year in 2017-18, with a program record 86 percent graduation success rate in 2016.
However, USF's ambitions of joining a Power Five conference never came into fruition under Harlan, as the Big 12 decided not to add any teams in 2016 when USF was among 11 programs under consideration.
In addition, Harlan launched USF's study into the feasibility of an on-campus football stadium, with the largest question being how such a project would be funded.