Late December 2014 will go down as one of the most tumultuous times for Utah football fans in recent memory. Not because something that occurred on the field. In fact, Utah was coming off a pretty successful season, and a victory in the Las Vegas Bowl. Twitter speculation had Utah Football Coach Kyle Whittingham fed up with Utah Athletic Director Dr. Chris Hill and leaving the program. It had some thinking, does Chris Hill know what he is doing?
When all the dust settled, it turns out this was not the case. One could sense that there may have been some disagreement over how assistant coaches salaries were structured, and it was made worse by the loss of defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake and defensive line coach Ilaisa Tuiaki to Oregon State. Hill acknowledged talking to Whittingham, but no discussion about money or contracts. Both agreed they had jobs to do, and they were going to do their best to accomplish that.
As the athletic director, Chris Hill makes roughly $783,554. He has two employees that made $982,347 (Larry Krystokwiak before his contract extension), and $2,710,000 (Kyle Whittingham) - according to utahsright.com. One of the most important aspects of his job is making sure that his two highest paid employees are happy. He seemed to address that in the off-season and did his best to compensate his two employees for their successful seasons by giving new contracts.
Stadium expansion is a sore subject for some Utah fans. If you have season tickets, this may not be such a hot button topic. All things considered, expanding Rice-Eccles Stadium would be a great thing for the school, program, and especially fans. The demand is there, with the number of years that Utah has had 98% renewal rate for season tickets. One has to consider the money though, and Utah does not really have it right now.
Utah got a 0% share of TV revenue from the Pac-12 in 2011, 50% in 2012, 75% in 2013, and finally last year Utah became a 100% TV revenue sharing partner. Hill has to consider the time it would take to recoup the cost of expansion through ticket sales. Would 10,000 extra seats cover the cost? Maybe eventually, but how many years would it take to do so? Current season ticket holders have watched their season tickets go up at least 400% in the last 10 years. They probably would not appreciate another big increase. The expansion will happen, but Chris Hill seems to want the money for the project before it is built. If the school received that money through donations, the stadium expansion would happen.
Hill has definitely helped bring training facilities up to par with the rest of the Pac-12. New football and basketball facilities, plus an updated the Huntsman Center are all key components to recruiting and maintaining competitive teams. These projects have helped the transition into the Pac-12. Upgraded facilities seemed to be his No. 1 priority when joining the conference. Financial help from Spence Eccles and Jon Huntsman really made these projects possible.
People questioned what Dr. Hill was doing with the basketball team in the post-Majerus era when a couple failed coaching hires sent the program into a tailspin. Hill seemed to admit his mistake and also admitted he had Larry Krystkowiak all but signed to replace Ray Giacoletti, but the Milwaukee Bucks swooped in and hired him instead. Hill knew who he wanted for Utah basketball, but it took a few more years and another bad hire.
Consider the quality hires that
The "Swim Scandal" was supposed to spell the end of Dr. Hill's time at Utah. Media reports and some disgruntled former swim team members who came forward with allegations of misconduct by head swim coach Greg Winslow. This was all under the watchful eye of Hill. One member of the media stated it was time for "Heads to Roll," namely Hill's. He admitted his mistake of delegating the swim team to another member of the athletic department, and vowed it would never happen again. They were serious allegations, and they needed to be addressed. Hill fired Winslow after other allegations that were totally separate from the ones when he was employed
Dr. Chris Hill seems to know what he's doing. He does his best to turn to YouTube to explain what's going on in Utah Athletics. Complaints over lack of water fountains and bathrooms at Rice-Eccles Stadium got addressed almost immediately. Facilities have been improved. Programs have improved, and if they have not improved, he has made changes.
If one looks back on post-game interviews of