Big news out of the Utah Athletic Department today, as longtime Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill has decided to announce his retirement. Hill has been the AD at Utah for 31-years, and has oversaw some major changes and updates to the program under his watch. We’ll touch on that more in a second, but Hill did say in his presser that he decided back in Janurary, and he wanted to wait until after basketball season to announce everything, but the Utes are still playing. He did say his last project is raising $20 million of the $25 million for the Rice-Eccles Stadium expansion/remodel project before he hangs them up.
I had a few personal interactions with Dr. Hill in his time up at Utah. When I was a student, I email him directly asking for an interview about a story I was doing in school regarding the BCS and some of it’s financial distribution. Utah was in the MWC at the time, and he emailed me back within an hour or so and he was more than happy to talk. He gave me about 15 minutes of his time and had a nice conversation. That’s something he could have passed along to anybody in the department, but he took time for a journalism student, which was incredible to me.
Hill has a long list of accomplishments while being the AD at Utah with some of the following being his biggest:
- Hiring Rick Majerus
- Hiring Urban Meyer
- Hiring Kyle Whittingham
- Hiring Larry Krystkowiak
- Leading Utah into the Pac-12
- Rice-Eccle Stadium and it’s future expansion
- New football and basketball facilities
- New on campus softball and track facilities
- Starting up lacross
- Huntsman Center upgrades
- and other huge additions to the campus
Shoot, even is a couple of his “missteps” he had some success, namely with Ray Giacaletti and Jim Boylen. Under Giac the program went to a Sweet 16 and won a conference title. Under Boylen they won a conference title and was a 5-see in the NCAA tournament.
Arguably, one of the most impressive feats under Hill is the APR scores the various programs post. While athletics has been very good, academics haven’t suffered. Football, basketball and gymnastics all rate among the leaders in the Pac-12 in APR, usually battling with Stanford.
Hill leaves very big shoes to fill, and it will be interesting to see which way the University moves next, but I know I want to say to Dr. Hill, thank you ... now go get us that $20 million for the football stadium.