Hartwell says goodbye to Troy, moves on to Utah

Published 3:01 am Wednesday, June 3, 2015

With the loss of Athletic Director John Hartwell, Troy University is losing a “class act” who set the stage for its athletics department to move to the next level, university officials and community residents said Tuesday.

After serving nearly three years as the Athletic Director of Troy University, Hartwell will leave the university in July and take the position of Vice President and Athletic Director at Utah State University.

“Troy will always hold a special place in my family’s heart,” Hartwell said. “I can’t say thank you enough to Dr. and Mrs. Hawkins, the Troy University staff, the Troy community, the fans and most importantly the Troy student-athletes for their hard work and support during my tenure at Troy. The Trojan Nation is strong and is continuing to grow, and I look forward to tracking the unrelenting success of all the Trojan teams. The friendships we made will last a lifetime and I will forever be a Trojan.”

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“In his tour of duty at Troy, John has provided great service to our athletic program and this move is a positive reflection on what he has accomplished here,” Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. said. “John has set the stage for our program to reach the next level and we wish him and his family well. We will also miss Dr. Heather Hartwell, who was outstanding as first lady of Trojan athletics as she brought a new dimension to that role by working tirelessly to promote TROY.  Utah State is definitely getting two for one!”

Hartwell touched many people’s lives while at Troy..“I consider John a friend,” said longtime Troy fan and supporter Jason Jones. “His family lives in the same neighborhood as us and I consider them family. From an athletic standpoint, I think he did more in less than three years than anybody has done in a long time, going back to when we made the move to Division 1.

“He had to replace coaches for the big three sports: football, baseball, and basketball. It’s hard to wrap around what all he has done, but he has done a lot of work around here, and he is certainly going to be missed.”

Hartwell oversaw a rejuvenation of the Troy coaching ranks with the addition of Neal Brown (football), Phil Cunningham (men’s basketball), Mark Smartt (baseball), Beth Mullins (softball), Jason Hamilton (soccer), Scott Kidd (men’s tennis), Bart Barnes (women’s golf), Marc Davis (track & field) and Rawia Elsisi (women’s tennis) as head coaches. Within the past year, three of Hartwell’s new hires – Mullins, Kidd and Barnes – have been named Sun Belt Coach of the Year, including back-to-back awards by Barnes.

“John is a rising star in this business,” Brown said. “I will be forever grateful for the opportunity he gave me to be Troy’s head football coach.  There are great things ahead for John and everyone with Troy football wishes him the very best.”

Troy also saw a significant enhancement in fundraising and external relations during Hartwell’s time as athletic director. He overhauled the Troy Athletics External Affairs division to increase revenues and enhance the fan and game day experience.

“John Hartwell was a drastic change from the previous AD. Not the old ball coach model, but a business-man,” Trojan fan, Brian Ross said. “His ability to connect with every donor and make them all feel the same was simply amazing. His passion to win and thinking outside the box was his specialty. You have to be creative in Troy. He’s living proof that you don’t have to be a Troy guy to be successful at Troy. When you first meet John Hartwell you know for sure he is destined to climb the ladder. Troy University is better because of him.”

Included in this makeover was the creation of a new external model, which involved 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 involvement in athletics.

“Troy is a tough place to raise money when so much support is sent to other schools in the state, but John grew our revenue and reached out to build and repair relationships with donors,” said Trojan Warrior Council Member Chad Simmons. “It’s an exciting time for Troy. I’m happy for the years John spent here. He has elevated the program to a certain level of expectation among fans and supporters. The next hire will have a good opportunity to continue and build on that.”

Hartwell’s strong business background proved valuable as he negotiated a new footwear and apparel deal with Adidas that further benefited all of Troy’s athletic teams.

“In the time he was here he was a tremendous Athletic Director.” Local television personality Mike Amos said. “To come here and not really know anybody, he did a really good job.

Marquee games are littered across Troy›s past and future football schedules as Hartwell secured home-and-home contracts with Duke, North Carolina State, Boise State, Southern Miss and UMass. Additionally, Hartwell negotiated the highest payouts for a road game in Troy history with contests at Wisconsin and Nebraska. The scheduling of big name schools to come to Troy didn›t stop at just at football, as Hartwell helped bring Ole Miss to Trojan Arena to open the 2014-15 men›s basketball season.

Hartwell’s tenure at Troy 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.

“John is a class act, and a true professional,” Troy supporter Eric Mizell said. “You obviously want to keep good talent around but you understand that it is his career and he is going to do a great job at Utah State and wherever he goes.”

An internal committee headed by Dr. Doug Patterson, Special Assistant to the Chancellor and former Vice Chancellor of Troy University, will handle the search for a new director of athletics.