Message from Athletics Director Mark Harlan

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Dear Utah Athletics Family:

Like all of you, the Utah Athletics Department is navigating through truly unprecedented times, as our country and the world face the realities of the rapidly spreading coronavirus. In the midst of our adjustment, the Salt Lake City area has now experienced the added stress of an earthquake, but we are grateful to report no injuries and no known damage to Athletics facilities.

With regard to the pandemic, I want to express my sincere empathy for those suffering from illness and those in the health care industry who are on the front lines fighting this battle.  We all need to take care of each other, take care of ourselves and follow the guidelines recommended to help stop the spread.

Within our Athletics community, we are continuing to follow the guidance of University leadership and health experts to make the best decisions possible in this effort and to care for our more than 520 student-athletes. They are our highest priority, and every decision is made with their wellness and best interests in mind. I want to thank President Watkins and her incredible leadership team on campus for guiding us through these rough waters and for displaying a true caring for all of our students in their difficult decisions.

I cannot say enough about the resiliency and character displayed by our student-athletes as they transition to the University’s online learning processes to continue their spring semester coursework.  While there has been so much disappointment, frustration and anxiety, they have transitioned with maturity and purpose.  I want to thank our coaches and staff who are working around the clock to serve our student-athletes as they not only adjust academically, but as they deal with the suspension of competition, practices and workouts.  Our coaches and staff have truly stepped up during a difficult period, as they focus on our student-athletes and on their own families as well.

Throughout this challenging period, I have been encouraged by the support and reassurance of our fans, donors, season ticketholders and all who take pride in Utah Athletics. We know you are all facing your own adversity from this situation and the resoluteness of your support for Utah Athletics reinforces the spirit of ONE UTAH as we stay unified in navigating these unprecedented times.

While very few of our student-athletes remain on campus as university-wide services are reduced to only essential levels of operation, we are placing a high priority on continuing to serve the needs of our student-athletes academically, emotionally and in regards to their physical health.

Consistent with the decisions to promote social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, our weight rooms have been closed. Sports medicine staffs are helping student-athletes through post-surgical rehab and daily treatments that must be done on premises. Mental health services continue to be available remotely for our student-athletes, and their overall wellness is being tended to in every way possible.

I have great respect and admiration for the hard work our student-athletes demonstrate on a daily basis, and I take pride in celebrating their many achievements. Adjusting to life without seeing them on campus and without cheering them on in competitions will take me some time.

It seems difficult now to remember just one week ago some of our teams were reaching the apex of their seasons, chasing championships and creating memories for all of us to celebrate. Our skiing program led the team standings by 32 points when the NCAA Championship meet was put on hold after two days of competition. The 4th-ranked Red Rocks were one day away from a chance to complete an undefeated season, one week away from hosting the Pac-12 Championship meet and were peaking at the right time to make a run at an NCAA Championship. Our softball team was off to a 14-4 start, and the list goes on—all of this following a record-breaking fall semester that saw an all-time best No. 18 ranking in the Learfield/IMG Director’s Cup and an overall 3.23 GPA by our student-athletes.

We will seek more clarification on the NCAA’s recommendation to offer eligibility relief for seniors whose spring seasons were cut short, but regardless of those decisions, we are working on plans to celebrate and honor our seniors. Their seasons are not ending the way they had planned, but we will appropriately commemorate their time as Utes and express our gratitude and respect for the way they represented the University of Utah. For our graduates who will not have a formal ceremony we will be thoughtful about how we recognize the incredible achievement of earning a Utah degree.

In the days since competition and practices were suspended, we have remained in contact with University leadership, followed the advice of medical experts and put the care of our student-athletes front-and-center in every circumstance we have encountered. We have also tried to be very thoughtful about those of you who support our programs with an eye toward the future, when a bit of normalcy returns and the games resume.

To offer a bit of relief, we have made the decision to extend the renewal deadline for 2020 football season tickets. That deadline will now be May 13. The Crimson Club and Ticket Office staffs continue to be available to serve you and answer questions. Development Officers are available by phone and email, and Ticket Office staff is available by email and text in order to assist with season ticket renewals and parking permits in preparation for the 2020 football season. Please refer to www.utahtickets.com for further information. Additionally, our sales staff for the Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium continues to operate virtually in order to keep that important project in motion and on schedule for its 2021 opening.

We also are offering refunds for any tickets purchased for canceled athletics events.

The entire Utah Athletics staff is working with great diligence, dedication and care to ensure we will come through this challenge in the healthiest way possible. With such great support and the hard work of so many, we eagerly await a return to competition, and Utah Athletics reaffirming its place as a department of excellence, a national power in intercollegiate athletics, and a source of pride for all affiliated with the University of Utah.

I wish you the best of health and safety in the weeks ahead.

Mark Harlan