UTC Gives Athletic Director Mark Wharton Contract Extension
(gomocs.com) UTC Chancellor Steve Angle announced a contract extension for Vice Chancellor & Director of Athletics Mark Wharton Wenesday. Wharton signed an initial five-year agreement with UTC in August of 2017, and this new deal keeps him with the Mocs until August 2026.
“I am very grateful for clear evidence of Vice Chancellor Wharton’s commitment to excellence — to ‘doing the right things in the right way,’ stated Angle. “The quality he has attracted and retained in key personnel positions is vital, and it has translated to success in the classroom and in competition. Our student-athletes have posted impressive results, and this contract extension is another reason that, as we often say, ‘It’s a great day to be a Moc!'”
Wharton recently wrapped up his fourth season at UTC and has made a tremendous impact on the Mocs in the classroom, in competition and in the community. Graduation rates for student-athletes topped 90 percent for the first time while three of the highest overall grade point averages were achieved in the last three semesters.
Fundraising and Mocs Club membership is at an all-time high, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also made some key head coaching hires in his tenure that include women’s basketball’s Katie Burrows, wrestling’s Kyle Ruschell and football’s Rusty Wright.
“I would like to thank Dr. Angle and the entire executive leadership team at UTC for their continued faith in our athletics program,” stated Wharton. “I am fortunate to work with an outstanding group of coaches, staff and student-athletes and they have done a tremendous job throughout my tenure.
“I am excited about our future as we still have many goals to achieve and plenty of room for improvement. I look forward to welcoming fans back to our events in the fall, so come be a part of what we are building at UTC.”
In the classroom, student-athletes set a new mark with a 3.421 overall GPA in the spring of 2020, the fourth record-setting term in a row. Last semester, 65 percent of all student-athletes made the Dean’s List with a 3.2 GPA or higher, while 74 percent made the Athletics Director’s Honor Roll with a 3.0 GPA or better. In addition, 20 percent (59 overall) had a perfect 4.0 GPA, the second-highest percentage in school history.
On the fundraising front, Wharton implemented the One Chattanooga program, which will generate $1 million in unrestricted support. In addition, the Mocs Club recorded a record $1.2 million in annual giving during the 2018-19 academic year. The momentum built from that record-breaking year carried over to the 2019-20 academic year, as the Mocs Club recorded $1.1 million in annual giving despite the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, membership in the C Club, the letter winners organization, increased 300 percent since Wharton’s arrival in Chattanooga.
Another of his innovations to drive fan engagement was the creation of the Fan Council. This 12-person committee exists to provide feedback and guidance in the areas of External Operations, as it relates to fan experience and gameday enhancements. The goal is to help improve engagement with the community and constituencies of all Mocs athletics programs.
In competition, wrestling and softball both won Southern Conference titles in 2018-19, while women’s basketball added another in 2019-20. Men’s basketball had its best start in school history in 2020-21, while the soccer team also enjoyed a record-breaking season in the spring.
A 25-year veteran of college athletics, Wharton spent four years as the Associate Athletics Director for Development at Penn State University prior to his arrival in the Scenic City. There he was a member of the Nittany Lions Senior Management Team, overseeing all aspects of athletics development.
During his tenure in Happy Valley, Wharton was a member of the Executive Committee for the Departmental Strategic Plan, the Facilities Master Plan Committee, Communications Committee and developed revenue generations plans for the athletics department leadership team.
Prior to joining Penn State, Wharton was the Assistant Athletics Director/Executive Director of the East Carolina University (ECU) Educational Foundation (Pirate Club) from 2006-13.
From 2004 to 2006, Wharton was the Associate Athletic Director for Development at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Prior to his stint at UNLV, Wharton spent 13 years in full-time development, ticketing or marketing roles in upper administration positions at UNC Asheville (2003-04), James Madison (2000-03) and East Carolina (1996-00). He was also a front office member of the Kinston Indians Baseball Club from 1991 to 1994.
Wharton earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Leisure Studies from East Carolina in 1993. He also earned a Master’s Degree in Human Ecology with an emphasis in Sport Management from the University of Tennessee in 1995. He is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD).