Troy AD: Academics a top priority

Published 8:25 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2012



John Hartwell said his mission as Troy University’s new athletic director is to make the Trojans a dominant force in the Sun Belt Conference.

Hartwell spoke at the Rotary Club’s weekly meeting on Tuesday, outlining his vision for Troy’s athletic programs and where he thinks they’re headed in the future.

“My family and I are thrilled to death and honored to be representing Troy University, and we want to make sure that everything we do is positive toward the contributions to Troy athletics, but to the university as a whole,” he said.

Hartwell said he tries to remind football and basketball players they are student athletes because their sites are set at playing at the professional level.

“At the end of the day, you’re one blind side hit away, one turn of the knee or one concussion away from taking all of that away,” he said. “But the education you get, the experiences you get there cannot be taken away from you. I think that’s important for our student athletes to remember that.”

Hartwell comes to Troy after spending nine years as the senior executive associate athletics director at the University of Mississippi. He served as the chief operating officer of the University of Mississippi Athletic Association Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) organization that generates more than $17 million annually for the Ole Miss Athletics Department, through seating and major gifts.

With the experience of working in athletics for a number of years, Hartwell said he believes Troy will be able to accomplish its mission of becoming a dominant force in the Sun Belt as it once was some years ago.

In the last 12 years, the Trojans won five Sun Belt Championships, the most recent in 2010. Troy has been to five bowl games and is still the only team to be a five-time Sun Belt Champion.

In the 2011-12 season, Troy ranked at the bottom of the league in academics.

“That’s not where our expectations are and need to be,” he said.

Hartwell said his main job on a day-to-day basis is to make sure all student athletes and coaches have the right tools to be successful in the classroom and on the playing field.

“The other part that gets lost is giving them exposure to the life-skills process,” he said. “Obviously winning is very important. The two things that coaches and athletic directors get judged by are wins and graduating student athletes.

“More imporant than winning is winnning the right way,” he said. “I remind my staff all the time that winning the right way means academics are a priority and also NCAA compliance.”

While at Ole Miss, Hartwell was responsible for the day-to-day administrative oversight of the football, men’s basketball and baseball programs, along with the softball and men’s and women’s track and field and cross country programs. He also oversaw the Rebels‘ business office, ticket office, equipment room, merchandise sales, concessions and football scheduling.

Hartwell said he plans to make a lot of departments in athletics at Troy fall under one organizational chart.

Like the many lunches at the club meeting, Hartwell said his plate if full right now with the goings on at Troy, especially the future construction of the North End Zone project.

He said new architectural renderings will be presented early next week and guesstimated a cost of $25 million for the project.

“Some folks may say you have 31,000 seats, but you average about 22,000-23,000 fans,” Hartwell said. “Why do you need more seating? It’s not so much about seating as it is about the internal components of the North End Zone structure, which will include new football lockers, team meeting rooms, coaches offices, as well as an academic viewing center and new training room as well.”

When the new Trojan Arena was built, the next major project was updating the football facilities, those the student athletes use on a daily basis for work outs and getting changed for games and or practices, Hartwell said.

“I feel very honored to be the athletic director at Troy University,” he said. “There are a 124 FBS-playing Division 1 schools. I feel very, very privilaged to have that position as one of those athletic directors, especially at Troy University.

“You can tell that the Troy family is truly a family,” he said. “The people set is really what makes Troy special.”

Hartwell’s experience in athletics administration began as the assistant athletic director for business at Georgia State in 1997. He was promoted to associate athletic director for internal affairs two years later, and his responsibilities expanded to include sport supervision for baseball, men’s and women’s golf, track and field and cross country teams. He also oversaw the Panthers’ athletic facilities and game management in addition to his previous responsibilities of all financial aspects of the department. While at GSU, Hartwell earned a master’s degree in sports administration.

Hartwell graduated from the Citadel in 1987 and spent four-plus years at Ernst and Young as a certified public accountant. He then came back to the Citadel, where he lent his speaking voice as a color commentator for the school’s basketball team.

In high school, Hartwell was an All-State basketball player at UMS-Wright in Mobile.

He is married to Dr. Heather Seale Hartwell and has two daughters, Lauren who is 3 years old and Madison, who was born on May 28. Hartwell also has a 20-year-old son, Hunter who is junior at Vanderbilt University.

Hartwell took over as Troy’s AD on Oct. 1, 2012.