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John Hartwell has resigned as Utah State’s athletic director

Hartwell had been USU’s AD since 2015, but has reportedly stepped down in order to move closer to family

SHARE John Hartwell has resigned as Utah State’s athletic director
USU athletic director John Hartwell.

John Hartwell listens as President Stan Albrecht speaks at a press conference where Hartwell was introduced as Utah State University’s new director of athletics on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. Hartwell has reportedly stepped down.

Eli Lucero

After seven years, John Hartwell is no longer the athletic director at Utah State.

Per multiple reports Tuesday morning, Hartwell has resigned his position.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel spoke with Hartwell Monday night, during which Hartwell expressed that the decision to leave Utah State was made with family in mind.

“He said he resigned from Utah State ... to move his family back to the South,” Thamel wrote on Twitter.

Hartwell also told the Action Network’s Brett McMurphy: “We are moving close to my wife’s family in Arkansas. We’re good. It’s time to put our family first. We had a great run at Utah State. We appreciate our time there.”

Amid the reports of Hartwell’s departure, Utah State president Noelle Cockett released the following statement:

“We have made great progress at USU building a positive and supportive culture throughout the university, including within USU Athletics, and we will stay focused on that goal. This change in leadership will continue the momentum we have already built.

“In this search, we will be looking for an experienced leader who believes in collaboration with university leadership to advance the mission and vision of the institution through athletics and will continue to actively engage in USU’s work to improve the campus culture.”

Per the university, President Cockett will announce an interim athletic director soon and a national search will begin imminently.

Hartwell had been rumored as a possible athletic director at both Auburn and Georgia Tech, after those respective programs moved on from their previous ADs. Auburn has since hired Mississippi State’s John Cohen as its next athletic director, while Georgia Tech turned to Alabama deputy athletic director J Batt.

An Alabama native, Hartwell was the athletic director at Troy University for three years prior to his time at Utah State and also spent nine years at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

Hartwell also went to school at The Citadel, in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Associated Press’ Ralph Russo noted that Hartwell could “land a deputy AD job in the SEC” and make a similar amount to what he was at Utah State.

Since arriving in Logan in the summer 2015, Hartwell had been quite successful as Utah State’s athletic director. He was named by Stadium Network as the 18th-best athletic director in the nation in 2020, and the fourth-best non-Power Five AD.

Under Hartwell, Utah State athletic programs combined to win seven Mountain West regular-season championships, as well as a Mountain Rim Gymnastics championship, in addition to four postseason titles.

USU won two MW championships in men’s basketball basketball, one in football and a MRGC championship in women’s gymnastics. Hartwell also hired the coaches who rebuilt the women’s volleyball (co-regular season champs in 2021) and women’s soccer programs (back-to-back MW tournament berths).

During Hartwell’s tenure, six Aggie head coaches were named their conference’s coach of the year

Utah State athletics were trending up under Hartwell too. This past 2021-22 college sports season, three USU teams won conference titles — football, women’s volleyball and women’s gymnastics. All three teams were led by coaches hired by Hartwell.

Utah State wasn’t without controversy under Hartwell, though, the most recent a complaint in federal court filed by former Aggies football player Patrick Maddox alleging retaliation by teammates and coaches after he made and distributed recordings of team meetings.

In 2020, an internal investigation was conducted to review concerns raised by student-athletes, specifically members of the Aggies football team, regarding alleged discriminatory statements made by Cockett in regards to the viability of then interim football coach Frank Maile’s as a head coaching candidate, following the resignation of then-head coach Gary Andersen.