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Syracuse University Extends Director of Athletics John Wildhack’s Contract Through Mid-2025
John Wildhack ’80, director of athletics at Syracuse University, will continue to lead the Orange’s Department of Athletics for at least the next five years. Chancellor Kent Syverud today announced that Wildhack’s contract has been extended through mid-2025.
“Syracuse University is very pleased with John’s performance as director of athletics, and I am delighted that he will continue to lead our programs through 2025,” says Chancellor Syverud. “He has elevated our program in many ways, on and off the playing fields, and inside and outside the classroom. Our student-athletes are performing at the highest levels academically and athletically. That success is a testament to John’s leadership and the hard work and dedication of his great team of coaches and staff.”
Wildhack, a native of Upstate New York and a 1980 alumnus of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, became director of athletics in July 2016. He leads the daily operations of a 20-sport athletics department with more than 600 student-athletes. During Wildhack’s four-year tenure, 42 teams have represented Syracuse at national championship events, including 39 NCAA competitions. In addition, the football team returned to the postseason in 2018 and captured its 16th bowl victory by defeating West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl. The Orange have won 23 conference championships (four team, 19 individual) in that span and two national championships. Both national titles were courtesy of Justyn Knight, who won the NCAA Cross Country Championship and the NCAA Indoor Championship in the 5,000-meter run during the 2017-18 academic year.
Syracuse student-athletes are succeeding at a high rate in the classroom as well. The Orange have had at least five teams receive perfect four-year scores in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) for three straight years. A record seven Orange teams (fourth-most among Power Five institutions) posted a perfect multi-year score of 1,000 in 2017-18. As a group, the Orange student-athlete body achieved better than a 3.0 cumulative GPA in 2019-20, the fourth year in a row it surpassed that benchmark.
“I am thankful for the support of Chancellor Syverud and the Board of Trustees. It has been an exciting four years, and I look forward to what Syracuse Athletics will achieve in the years ahead,” says Wildhack. “It is a privilege to work with our outstanding coaches, a wonderful staff and our talented student-athletes. Together, they represent the very best of college athletics. I am proud to be their director of athletics, an alumnus and a member of our great Syracuse University community.”
Since his arrival on campus, Wildhack has overseen multiple strategic initiatives to ensure the future success of Syracuse University athletics. Among the most impactful have been securing a $118 million investment from the University for enhancements to create a new stadium experience and the formation of an in-house production unit, which launched in 2017 and has broadcast 301 live events and generated nearly 1,000 hours of content on the ACC Network and the conference’s digital platform, ACC Network Extra.
Wildhack came to lead the Department of Athletics after spending more than three decades at ESPN, where he held several critical leadership roles, including most recently as executive vice president for programming and production. Wildhack also oversaw some of the network’s most significant milestones, including producing ESPN’s first live regular-season college football game, in 1984, and its first live NFL game, in 1987.