Since being named Vice President and Director of Athletics at Utah State on June 2, 2015, John Hartwell has cast his vision for Aggie Athletics, which embodies maximum effort academically, athletically and socially to ensure success in both the classroom and on the fields of competition.
Hartwell has also focused on maximizing and increasing the department’s revenue streams, along with planning for future facility renovations, which includes Maverik Stadium and the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
In his brief time at Utah State, Hartwell has already rebranded the fundraising arm of Utah State Athletics with the creation of Aggies Unlimited, which puts all giving under one umbrella.
Utah State also entered into a new partnership with the Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment Group to be its flagship radio station for Aggie Athletics, which gives USU additional advertising opportunities throughout Cache Valley and the Wasatch Front, in addition to more control over each broadcast.
Additionally, Hartwell has overseen the completion of the $36 million, 85,000-square foot West Stadium Center on the west side of Maverik Stadium, which includes 24 luxury suites, 20 loge boxes, over 700 covered club seats and a premium club area that is also used to host a student-athlete training table. Renovations also included new video boards on both the north and south ends of the stadium, along with a new public address system, while major concourse work significantly increased restrooms and upgraded concessions.
Under Hartwell’s leadership, Utah State has seen unparalleled athletic success during the past two academic years, highlighted by its men’s tennis program winning the school’s first Mountain West regular season and tournament championships since joining the Conference in 2013. In fact, men’s tennis has won back-to-back regular season championships the past two years, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament as a team in 2017 for the first time in program history as it finished the season with a school-record 23 wins and a final national ranking of No. 45.
Aggie softball has also seen increased success over the past two seasons as they finished the 2017 campaign with a 33-18 record, including a 14-9 Mountain West mark, and advanced to the National Softball Invitational, marking the program’s first postseason appearance since 1993. In fact, those 33 overall wins and 14 league victories are its most since 1996, as USU finished the 2017 season tied for third place in the league.
Other Utah State sports that have excelled the past two seasons in the Mountain West include its men’s track & field programs, as they finished second at both the indoor and outdoor conference championships in 2016, and third at both championships during the 2017 academic year. Additionally, USU’s football program played in a school-record fifth-straight bowl game in 2016.
Even more impressive is Utah State’s continued successes by its student-athletes in the classroom as they have an 89 percent graduation success rate, which is the highest in the Mountain West, and a cumulative 3.196 grade-point average. During the 2016-17 academic year, USU had 148 student-athletes earn academic all-Mountain West honors, while 106 were named Mountain West Scholar-Athletes. Additionally, USU recognized 195 student-athletes at its annual Joe E. and Elma Whitesides Luncheon for earning a 3.2 or better GPA.
Hartwell came to Utah State after spending three years as the Athletics Director at Troy, where he laid the groundwork for the future of Trojan Athletics by spearheading several significant upgrades to its athletic facilities, including the addition of a new $2 million practice facility for the golf teams, a $3 million renovation and expansion of the softball facility and a $2.1 million improvement to Veterans Memorial Stadium, while also securing funding for lights to be installed at the soccer and track complex. Hartwell also unveiled the North End Zone Project for Veterans Memorial Stadium, a $25 million project that will be the new home for Trojan football.
Troy’s athletics programs have also seen vast improvement on the fields of play due to Hartwell’s leadership and oversight, including the football program that recorded its first 10-win season since joining the FBS and tied for the largest turnaround in the FBS in 2016, not to mention the Trojans being the first Sun Belt Conference team to ever appear in either the Associated Press or Coaches Poll. Men’s basketball won the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Tournament and advanced to its first NCAA Tournament since 2003, while the women’s basketball program has won back-to-back Sun Belt Tournament championships and appeared in two-straight NCAA Tournaments. Troy’s golf programs have also excelled as the women’s program has won three of the past four Sun Belt titles, while men’s golf has advanced to three-straight NCAA Regionals. Troy’s baseball team finished third in the Sun Belt in 2016 and defeated three ranked teams, including No. 5 Auburn.
Under Hartwell, Troy Athletics saw a significant enhancement in fundraising and external relations as he completely overhauled Troy’s External Affairs division of the Athletics Department to increase revenues and enhance the fan and game day experience. As part of this makeover was the creation of a new external model, which included the addition of a Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs; bringing corporate sponsorships in house with a partnership with Rockbridge Sports Group; and the development of the Troy Affinity Program to further engage Troy students in athletics.
Hartwell’s strong business background also proved to be valuable at Troy as he negotiated a new footwear and apparel deal with Adidas, while also securing home-and-home football games with Duke and North Carolina State in addition to yielding a home basketball game with Mississippi. Hartwell’s tenure at Troy also saw a record number of student-athletes earn a 3.0 grade-point-average, an upward trend in APR scores and additional staff positions in Troy’s academic support department. During the 2014-15 academic year, Troy student-athletes finished with a 3.01 cumulative grade-point-average and over 57 percent of Troy’s student-athletes had a 3.0 GPA or higher.
At Troy, Hartwell served on the NCAA Division I Basketball Issues Committee, the Division I-A Board of Trustees Executive Committee, and the NCAA Division I Council as the Sun Belt Conference representative. He has also been an instructor at the Division I-A Institute for aspiring athletic directors.
Prior to being the Director of Athletics at Troy, Hartwell spent nine-plus years at the University of Mississippi, where he was the Senior Executive Associate Athletics Director, serving as the number two administrator in athletics.
Hartwell served as the Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer of the Mississippi Athletic Association Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) organization that generated over $17 million annually for the Ole Miss Athletics Department through priority seating and major gifts.
He was responsible for the day-to-day administrative oversight of the football, men’s basketball and baseball programs, along with sport oversight of the softball and men’s and women’s track & field and cross country programs. Hartwell also oversaw the Rebels’ business office, ticket office, equipment room, merchandise sales, concessions and football scheduling. Hartwell scheduled several marquee football games for the Rebels, including a home-and-home series with Texas that began in 2012.
Hartwell managed the growth of the Ole Miss athletic budget from $26 million in the 2003 fiscal year to over $47 million in the 2012 fiscal year. He also chaired the search to hire men’s basketball head coach Andy Kennedy in 2006. He was heavily involved in negotiations that increased revenues with contracts for apparel and footwear (Nike), merchandise sales (Sports Avenue/LIDS), concessions (Centerplate), wireless provider (C Spire) and video boards (Daktronics). He served on the Southeastern Conference Ticket Committee and started the annual SEC Chief Financial Officers Forum.
A 1987 graduate of The Citadel, the 52-year old Hartwell spent four-plus years as a certified public accountant with Ernst & Young before returning to his alma mater to serve as the Director of Internal Audit in 1991. From 1994 to 1997, he was in private business as the Chief Financial Officer for a $36 million beverage distributor on the South Carolina coast.
Hartwell’s direct experience in athletics administration began as the Assistant Athletics Director for Business at Georgia State in 1997. He was promoted to Associate Athletics Director for Internal Affairs in 1999, and his responsibilities expanded to include sport supervision for baseball, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s track & field and cross country. He also had oversight over the Panthers’ athletic facilities and game management in addition to his previous responsibilities of all financial aspects of the department. While at Georgia State, Hartwell earned a master’s degree in sports administration.
Athletics has always been a big part of Hartwell’s life, starting in high school where he was an all-state basketball selection at UMS-Wright in Mobile, Ala. The 6-foot-7 forward played alongside former North Carolina State and Alabama head coach Mark Gottfried in high school. Hartwell went on to play collegiately at The Citadel, where he was a three-year starter, a four-year letterman and captain of the team as a senior in 1987.
Hartwell is married to Dr. Heather Seale Hartwell, and they have two daughters, Lauren (8) and Madison (5). Hartwell also has a 25-year old son, Hunter, a Vanderbilt graduate who works for Deloitte Consulting.