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It's official: Chris McIntosh promoted to Wisconsin athletic director
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It's official: Chris McIntosh promoted to Wisconsin athletic director

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Chris McIntosh, UW generic file photo

UW-Madison Deputy Athletic Director Chris McIntosh.

The University of Wisconsin stayed in house for its next athletic director, with an eight-week search leading to the promotion of Chris McIntosh from deputy.

The UW System Board of Regents on Wednesday morning approved a contract with McIntosh, 44, a former Badgers football player who will be only the third UW athletic director in 32 years.

He'll take over from Barry Alvarez, who's retiring at the end of June. Alvarez has been in the position since 2004; before that, Pat Richter held the job since 1989.

"I owe so much to the University of Wisconsin, and I'm deeply honored to be able to succeed Barry Alvarez," McIntosh said in a news release. He'll speak to the media at a 2 p.m. Wednesday event at the Kohl Center. "We will build upon our legacy of success on the field of competition and support our student-athletes in the classroom, on campus and after college."

UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank opened a national search April 7 and appointed nine people to a search committee that met four times in closed session to discuss a pool of 35 applicants.

Former UW deputy athletic director Sean Frazier, now AD at Northern Illinois, said he interviewed for the position. Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz also was believed to be a finalist.

The final decision was with Blank, who said in April that she understood the importance of the athletic director hire.

"Leadership matters for maintaining the culture and the ethos and the quality of programs we have here," Blank said. "And if we get it wrong, we will not maintain that and that would be at a very high cost to our students, to our university, to the state."

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McIntosh, a Pewaukee native who had been groomed by Alvarez to move into the athletic director position, played offensive line for the Badgers from 1996 to 1999 and was a first-round NFL draft pick. He joined the athletic department administration in 2014 after his playing career and jobs in the health and wellness industry. He was promoted to deputy athletic director in July 2017.

McIntosh is set to make $940,000 annually on a five-year contract, according to a UW official. Of that, $500,000 is in base salary and $440,000 is from private gift funds designated for athletics and held at the UW Foundation. Alvarez made a combined $1.55 million annually in the job.

University of Wisconsin deputy athletic director Chris McIntosh discusses the Badgers' football ticket plans on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Video courtesy UW Athletics.

A former Badgers football teammate of McIntosh's gave the hire a thumbs-up.

"This matters to him," said Donnel Thompson, a Madison native who was co-captain with McIntosh on teams that won the Rose Bowl following the 1998 and 1999 seasons. "He's from Wisconsin. He went to the University of Wisconsin. So many former players know Mac. We will have an opinion. He knows he represents us and he wants to be successful.

"And I think if afforded the opportunity he'll retire as the athletic director. And that's the type of person you want to have the job versus somebody that sees it as a new opportunity or that likes the idea of being athletic director but the Wisconsin part not being that important."

McIntosh has led day-to-day operations in the athletic department but soon will take a step up in leadership as the college athletics landscape faces upheaval.

The NCAA and its member schools are under pressure to address equity and diversity concerns and to set a course to allow players to be compensated for their name, image and likeness. Schools also have to recover from the financial damage inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

McIntosh started in UW athletics administration as associate athletic director for business development. He has been prominent in the operation of a department whose annual budget has climbed past $130 million since he became Alvarez’s deputy.

"Chris is a natural leader who loves the Badgers and cares about our student-athletes," Blank said in a news release. "He is uniquely positioned to continue our proud traditions of success on and off the field and doing things 'the right way.' Chris will build upon those traditions and has a strong vision for leading the program during a time of change in college athletics."

Check out the State Journal's complete coverage of Barry Alvarez's retirement announcement

The Wisconsin State Journal is providing our readers with comprehensive coverage of Barry Alvarez's retirement from his position as athletic director at the University of Wisconsin.

From a look back at Alvarez's football coaching days and the changes the department has made since he came to Madison in 1990, to an examination of what lies ahead in the university's search for a successor, we have you covered with all the latest updates and in-depth analysis of this landmark moment in Badgers history.

To continue to support journalism like this and gain full access to all of our Badgers' coverage throughout the year, please consider a digital subscription. To all of our current subscribers, we thank you for your continued support of local journalism!

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