New UTC athletic director Mark Wharton spoke Thursday to local business leaders about his vision for UTC sports.
“I see great things for Chattanooga,” Wharton said at this month’s meeting of the chamber’s downtown council meeting. “With this staff, the university and the leadership of our chancellor, there is no excuse we can’t win a Southern Conference championship in every one of our sports.”
Wharton, who was appointed to the position in August, came to UTC with 22 years of experience in college athletics. He most recently served as Penn State’s associate athletic director.
He said he sees great potential for the future of UTC athletics and praised the student-athletes’ work in the classroom.
“Our average GPA for student-athletes was above 3.0,” Wharton said. “Sixty-five percent of our athletes had a 3.0 or better. They’re getting it done in the classroom.”
Wharton also discussed the challenges, such as limited resources and young rosters, that UTC’s sports programs face.
UTC has the second-youngest men’s basketball roster in the country, second only to Kentucky.
But, despite the hurdles, Wharton said he expects high-level success.
With support and time, he plans to make UTC a well-known brand of its own, he said.
To advance his goals, Wharton aims to create more community relationships and invest time into the program.
“You’re going to see some incredible things with our athletic department,” Wharton said. “There’s an opportunity to get to higher levels. I think we’re going to get into the conversation, and I will make sure we are in the conversation. This is a special, special place.”
Kyle Yager is a contributing writer.