Chris McIntosh has been selected as the University of Wisconsin-Madison athletic director following the announcement of the retirement of Barry Alvarez last April.
“Chris is a natural leader who loves the Badgers and cares about our student-athletes,” said UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank in a university news release. “He is uniquely positioned to continue our proud traditions of success on and off the field and doing things ‘the right way.’”
After playing Badgers football and serving as captain of the 1999 and 2000 Rose Bowl teams, McIntosh went on to play in the NFL until 2004 before joining the UW athletics department as associate athletic director for business development in 2014.
He has served as the deputy athletic director since 2017.
During his tenure within the UW athletics department, McIntosh pioneered the Forward 360 program intended to support student athletes in all facets of life — on and off the field — and also advised plans relating to equity and inclusion as well as the creation of the Equity and Diversity Council.
“Our responsibility is to develop young people, so they can be successful for the rest of their lives,” McIntosh said, stressing his commitment to fostering a welcoming environment for both student-athletes and employees in the department under his leadership. “Our mission is to set our student-athletes up for success long after their playing careers are completed.”
An emphasis on academics will also be at the heart of the department, said McIntosh.
There were thirty-five applicants considered for the position. McIntosh was ultimately selected by Blank but he was also Alvarez’s choice as successor to head the UW athletic department.
“I’m looking forward to building off of a foundation Coach Alvarez has built over the last thirty years and seeing where we can go,” said McIntosh in an interview on the Big Ten Network, highlighting his intention to continue to uphold the traditions and values of UW athletics while also acknowledging the importance of embracing change in college sports in Madison and across the country.
“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,” McIntosh said to the UW.
Following the announcement of McIntosh’s promotion, some Black community leaders expressed frustration with Blank’s decision, citing concerns with the selection process.
In a statement, the Black Leadership Council described the decision as a continuation of “the good ole boy system” while highlighting that several Black employees have left the department over the last few years — indicating a larger issue relating to diversity and equity within the department.
“The revolving door of Black staff in the Athletic Department is a troubling pattern that we would like an independent body...to investigate and report on,” read the statement from the BLC, emphasizing a desire for a serious shift in culture within the athletic department.
McIntosh will take over as UW athletic director on July 1 when Alvarez officially retires at the end of the month.
Sophia Vento is the former editor-in-chief of The Daily Cardinal. She previously served as the college news editor. She has covered breaking campus, city, state and sports news, and written in-depth stories about health, culture and education. Any newsroom would be lucky to have Sophia on staff. Follow her on Twitter at @sophiasvento.