Black leaders in Madison, Wis., voiced criticism in the immediate wake of the University of Wisconsin's selection of Chris McIntosh to succeed Barry Alvarez as athletic director, but Jerry Darda, who served as a diving coach for the Badgers from 1964 to 1994, defended the choice.
In a letter printed last week in the Wisconsin State Journal, Darda praised the ascension of Black individuals in local government, adding, "However, some in Madison are criticizing the UW athletic department for hiring the well-qualified Chris McIntosh as the new athletic director because he is white. This is an insult to both McIntosh and the selection committee."
"The further comment that the athletic department lacks an environment of racial inclusion which caused an exodus of Black employees is simply false," Darda continued. "Many Black employees left for significant promotions and more lucrative jobs elsewhere: Shawn Frazier as athletic director at Northern Illinois, and David Harris as athletic director at Northern Iowa via Iowa State are just two examples."
McIntosh, a consensus All-America offensive tackle who captained Wisconsin’s back-to-back Big Ten and Rose Bowl champions in 1998 and 1999, returned to UW in December of 2014 as Wisconsin’s associate athletic director for business development, responsible for identifying, developing and enhancing new and existing sources of revenue for UW athletics, according to its web site. He cultivated corporate sponsorships, negotiated and secured new apparel, licensing and merchandising partnerships and helped to enhance Wisconsin’s current sponsorship program.
As deputy athletic director since 2017, McIntosh oversaw the day-to-day operations of the athletic department while also serving as the sport administrator for football. He was a key member of search committees that led to the hiring of multiple coaches, including Greg Gard (men's basketball), Paul Chryst (football), Tony Granato (men's ice hockey), Yuri Suguiyama (women's swimming & diving) and Marisa Moseley (women's basketball).
During his time at Wisconsin, student-athletes have excelled both athletically and academically. According to the athletic department site, the overall Graduation Success Rate for UW student-athletes is 91 percent, including record highs in each of the last three years. In each of the past two years, 100 percent of UW’s graduating student-athletes have achieved positive post-graduate career outcomes.
"McIntosh was the only candidate who brought first-hand experience of the cultural expectations at UW, because he lived them both as a student and athlete," Darda wrote. "He was by far the best choice for this job and I'm disappointed some of Madison's Black leaders don't share the perspective of his former teammates — both white and Black — that he has the competencies to be successful."