John P. Hardt spent 18 years in a job he loved, but when the opportunity to be the athletic director at the University of Richmond arose, he couldn't say no.
“It was really a difficult decision for me to leave Bucknell, and I would not have left it for anything other than a really special opportunity,” Hardt said.
Hardt learned about Richmond through his daughter's positive experience during her time at UR as a student.
“And we could not have been happier as parents with her four years at Richmond and the wonderful education she received at that time,” Hardt said.
Current deputy director of athletics, David Walsh, served as interim athletic director and said that he had taken over responsibilities of the department in July of 2017. He filled the position until Hardt’s arrival in January.
Walsh said that his primary goal was preparing for the upcoming school year while keeping the department moving forward. Matt Moretti III, the assistant director of Athletic Public Relations, said that the transition was going well between athletic directors.
While Hardt is new to his position at UR, he said that he had plans not only for its athletics, but also for the student body as a whole. He said that he hoped to encourage people to broadcast the games that they wanted to watch through streaming.
“Our students' appetite for sports hasn’t really changed,” Hardt said. “It’s just the way they experience and, like I say, consume sports, and technology is a big part of that.”
Hardt said he wanted UR's athletics to be a part of everyone’s undergraduate college experience while attending the university.
During his time at Bucknell, Hardt was proud of the coaches and the student athletes. He said that the environment projected the student athlete model in a positive light. These students weren’t just engaged in their athletics; they were also academically challenged off the field.
Hardt's first major project at UR will be supervising the new facilities development that has been underway since January when he first stepped on campus.
“Through this project we’re going to be able to step back and look at the overall square footage and really redesign it,” Hardt said. “Repurpose it.”
He said that these changes will include upgrades to the varsity locker rooms, sports medicine, athletic training, strength conditioning and athletic equipment operations.
As an athletic director at Bucknell, Hardt helped with a complete overhaul of the athletics and recreation departments through a capital project. He will play a similar role in the development of the new facilities in the Robins Center.
At Bucknell, Hardt put into place a campaign called “The Blue and Orange Go Green,” where the administration took steps to make the campus more eco-friendly. By upgrading to LED lights, Hardt said it made places like the basketball stadium more energy efficient.
“I’d like to do whatever we can to reduce our carbon footprint and make the overall operation of the varsity program as sustainable as possible,” he said.
The renovations being made to the Robins Center will also impact not only current athletes, Hardt said, but also Spider athletes for years to come.
“The thing that was exciting about [joining the project] as the new AD was that it was a project that was going to positively impact every single one of the varsity programs and every single one of the varsity athletes,” Hardt said.
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