Rebecca Blank's exit as UW-Madison chancellor will come a year after she installed a new athletic director during a time of major change in college sports.
Blank announced Monday that she's becoming president at Northwestern after she finishes the 2021-22 academic year at UW.
Here are three ways the move will impact Badgers athletics:
Chris McIntosh will have a new boss
Blank hired Chris McIntosh as UW's athletic director earlier this year, putting him in charge of the 23-sport program with a $130 million budget not only during the pandemic but while the NCAA structure is under fire from multiple angles, both legal and social.
McIntosh will report to someone new next year, which will change some of the dynamic in athletics. The chancellor doesn't handle day-to-day administration of the athletic department but sets the overall course for the school so some of that filters into what happens in Kellner Hall.
What kinds of priorities will be important to the new chancellor in the area of how restructuring happens in college athletics during an era of calls for more compensation for athletes will depend on who's chosen for the role.
UW will lose a direct link to the NCAA executive level
Blank joined the NCAA Board of Governors in 2020, giving UW a line right into the level where big decisions are made. She has been a vocal opponent of pay for play in college sports, an opinion that probably helped her get into the executive level at the national organization.
McIntosh said last week that he hopes UW can be a leader in discussions of where college sports goes after legal challenges and changes like the loosening of restrictions on players profiting from their name, image and likeness rights. Not having Blank representing UW at the governors' table could change how McIntosh and the school get their voice heard.
Blank earlier this year predicted that college sports will have "several years ... of change and controversy" around amateurism questions and state and federal governments legislating marketing opportunities for athletes.
Big Ten council leadership could change
Blank is in the first of two years as chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors, the body that sets policy for the conference. It's unclear whether that position, which was with Northwestern's Morton Schapiro before Blank, will travel with her to the Evanston school or stay with UW for the second year of the term.
A decision on whether to change the COP/C leader next season will be reviewed by the conference because of the unique circumstance, a Big Ten official said.
The opportunity to be at the head of the table when the Big Ten makes big decisions can be valuable to UW.
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.
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The University of Wisconsin is looking for a proven leader and decision-maker to succeed Barry Alvarez as its athletic director.
The coach-turned-athletic director turned around the fortunes of the football team and solidified the bottom line.
Replacing Barry Alvarez as the University of Wisconsin’s athletic director will be both a tremendous opportunity and challenge.
Barry Alvarez disclosed that a search committee to find the next athletic director will be led by Athletic Board chair Pete Miller.
Barry Alvarez, 74, will finish his term leading the UW athletic program this summer after a 17-year stretch in the seat during which the department's budget nearly doubled.
Sweeping changes are coming to college athletics in the form of NIL payments and athlete empowerment. UW's next AD has to take those challenges head-on.
"For Wisconsin football and Wisconsin athletics in general, he's put the ‘W’ on the map.”
“There’ll be plenty of time for me to get emotional,” the UW athletic director said.
Watch as UW celebrates Alvarez's 31-year Badgers career with "Thanks Coach! Celebrating Three Decades of Excellence" at 12:30 p.m. at the Kohl Center.
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