The University of Wisconsin is drawing criticism from Black community leaders in Madison over the school’s pick of Chris McIntosh as the new athletic director to succeed Barry Alvarez.
The Black Leadership Council of Dane County, Urban League of Greater Madison president and CEO Ruben Anthony said Chancellor Rebecca Blank had lost an opportunity to address the concerns of Black students at the school.
Anthony said Blank sowed distrust through a less than transparent process in picking Alvarez’s replacement.
“She said if anybody lobbied for a candidate, they would disqualify that candidate and Barry openly lobbied (for McIntosh) from the start to the finish with no retribution,” Anthony told The Capital Times. “Why didn’t she disqualify his candidate? Why did she allow him to do that?”
Anthony said Blank blocked a more diverse search committee, saying the decision belonged entirely to Alvarez.
“Ultimately, it was his pick,” Anthony said.
Blank defended the process in a statement.
“Our process during the athletic director search was open and fair, guided by a diverse search committee, including current and former Athletic Board chairs, alumni and former student athletes,” Blank said. “This group worked hard to recruit a diverse group of candidates for the role and recommended final candidates to me. People weigh in on nearly every hiring decision I make, but ultimately I hire the candidate who has the best credentials, talent and experience to build upon our success."
McIntosh, who is white, was an All-American offensive lineman from Wisconsin. He was part of the Badgers teams that went to back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1999 and 2000. McIntosh joined the UW Athletic Department in 2014, a move many believed was part of Alvarez grooming him for the AD position.
“Chris McIntosh has and will continue to be a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion,” Blank said in the statement. “He initiated the Athletic Department’s diversity & inclusion strategic plan, helped found the new Equity and Diversity Council within the department and has assured me that he will tackle this area with new energy and approaches.”
Anthony said his comments weren’t meant to be critical of McIntosh, but the BLC underscored in its statement that 10 Black staffers and assistant coaches have left the athletic department in recent years.
“Students and coaches are complaining. We’ve seen a mass exodus of Black coaches. McIntosh and Barry have done this together,” Anthony said. “Again, this whole approach to allowing a process in a public university to just be dictated and decided by an outgoing athletic director rubs people the wrong way. McIntosh might end up being a good athletic director, but the process stinks.”