Alumnus, ME.D Educational Administration; Ph.D.
Just 37 years old when he was appointed as Utah’s director of athletics, Chris Hill, Ph.D., has spent the last 26 years developing the school’s athletics department into one of national prominence. He was instrumental in Utah’s invitation to join the Pac-12 Conference in the summer of 2010, a move preceded by the football team’s historic BCS appearances in the 2004 and 2008 seasons. Utah has won nine NCAA team championships during Hill’s tenure—four by the gymnastics team and five by the ski team—and has finished as the national runner-up 15 times. Those runner-up finishes include a No. 2 national ranking by the football team after its victory over Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl, and by the 1998 men’s basketball team.
He has hired three coaches who won National Coach of the Year honors at Utah: football coaches Urban Meyer (2004) and Kyle Whittingham (2008), and men’s basketball coach Rick Majerus (1998). Hill has served on several national boards, including the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee (2004-09), chair of the NCAA Championships/Competition Cabinet (1997-98) and the NCAA Management Council Administrative Committee. He was on NACDA’s executive committee from 2002-06.
The football program, which had not played in a bowl game since 1964 prior to Hill’s appointment as athletics director, is 11-4 in bowl games during his term. Utah’s other athletic programs have also thrived under his leadership. The men’s basketball team has played in 13 NCAA Tournaments—advancing to the Sweet 16 five times and the Elite Eight twice. In 1998, the Runnin’ Utes advanced to the NCAA Championship game against Kentucky. The women’s basketball team has 15 NCAA appearances, playing in the Sweet 16 twice and the Elite Eight in 2006, and was the 2013 WNIT runner-up. The gymnastics team has made 18 NCAA Super Six appearances (second most in the country)—and the ski team has finished first or second in the nation 14 times under his watch.
He has received a number of awards, including: 2011 National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Under Armour West Region Athletic Director of the Year, finalist for the 2011 Athletic Director of the Year by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, 2011 Utah YMCA Man of the Year, 2004 Mountain West Conference’s Commissioner’s Award, 1981 Milton Bennion Fellowship, 1984 Utah Recreation Therapy Association Outstanding Service award and 1996 Utah MS Sportsperson of the Year.
The former Rutgers’ basketball captain was inducted into the Jersey Shore Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2001, the National Consortium for Academics and Sports awarded him its Degree Completion and Outreach and Community Service Honor Award. He currently serves on the Catholic Community Services Board of Directors.
The New Jersey native has served in five capacities at the U., starting in 1973-74 as a graduate assistant basketball coach on Bill Foster’s staff. After coaching boys’ basketball at Salt Lake’s Granger High from 1975-79 (he was the 1975 4A Coach of the Year), Hill returned to the U. as an assistant coach to Jerry Pimm (1979-81). From 1983-85, he taught in the University’s special education department before coming back to athletics as the Crimson Club director (1985-86). In 1987, he became the director of athletics.
Hill was the executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Utah from 1981-85, during which time he developed a housing project for people with severe physical disabilities. As an undergraduate, Hill won three letters in basketball at Rutgers and co-captained the 1971-72 team. His bachelor’s degree from Rutgers is in math education (1972). He holds a master’s in education (Utah, 1974), and a Ph.D. in educational administration (Utah, 1982).
His wife Kathy, a faculty member in the U.’s Department of Special Education in severe disabilities, received the 2010 College of Education Service Award and the 2012 ASUU Student Choice Award for Excellence in Teaching. They have two children, Aly and Christopher; two granddaughters, Addie and Lily, and a grandson, Jack.
Aly played soccer for the University of Oregon and has a master’s degree in social work from Utah. She teaches students with severe disabilities in the Salt Lake City School District. Christopher has a bachelor’s degree in organizational communication and a law degree from the U.’s S.J. Quinney School of Law. He is employed by the Pac-12 Enterprises in San Francisco and is married to Darci Motoki, who received her B.A. in psychology and philosophy from Boston College and her M.A. in psychology from Claremont University. She is a consultant for Accenture in San Francisco.