After filling a number of roles with the Worldwide Leader starting from 1980 through the present as a production assistant to producer to programming executive to an executive avice president, John Wildhack is leaving ESPN to become the Athletic Director of his alma mater, Syracuse University.

Wildhack was the producer of ESPN’s first live NFL game in 1987 and its first live regular season college football game in 1984.

He’s held numerous roles including overseeing all rights negotiations for all of ESPN’s properties. And he was responsible for the growth of ESPN2’s programming from studio shows to a lineup of auto racing, college football and basketball. Wildhack was also instrumental in renewing and expanding ESPN and ESPN2 agreements with MLB, NFL, NBA, BCS, NCAA, tennis’ Grand Slam events and several college conferences.

Wildhack became a candidate to replace Mark Coyle as Syracuse A.D. who was in the position for just 11 months. And while Wildhack has lived in Connecticut since he began at ESPN, he has maintained ties with the school and the Central New York area. His television experience will come in handy as Syracuse is a member of the ACC and the conference wants to launch a television network.

Wildhack says this new chapter in his life is exciting:

“Syracuse University played a profound role in my life’s trajectory and I’m confident I wouldn’t be where I am without the education and opportunities this institution afforded me. To help my alma mater, in particular Syracuse student-athletes, continue to excel and grow, especially in light of the enormous investments being made and that have been made in its facilities, is a tremendous responsibility and one I don’t take lightly. I am honored to have been selected and I look forward to collaborating with the amazing coaches and staff as we work to develop the whole student-athlete—inside and outside the classroom.”

Wildhack comes into the job with no experience in athletic administration. How he adjusts and takes Syracuse into its next decade will be watched closely by alums.


About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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