Chris McIntosh, Univ. of Wisconsin Athletic Director, began his new role in July, 2021, replacing UW legend Barry Alvarez.
McIntosh joined WTMJ’s John Mercure on this week’s episode of WTMJ Conversations.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed below, courtesy of eCourt Reporters, Inc.
JOHN MERCURE: Everybody’s excited September 4th, Penn State. Why is it important to have fans back in the stands at Camp Randall? How big of a deal is that?
CHRIS MCINTOSH: I think it’s a huge deal, you know, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, for our student athletes, we’ve got football players here, if you just focus for a second on Camp Randall, who haven’t been in front of — haven’t played in front of fans in Camp Randall. We have two classes of kids that haven’t played in front of our fans. Essentially, 40 percent of our team hasn’t played in front of fans in Camp Randall, and they deserve to. And, you know, they’ve worked hard to have an opportunity, like the one they have here to play at Wisconsin in the Big 10, and they deserve to feel what that’s like. And they deserve to run out into one of the best college football environments and feel that energy and compete on the big stage, because that’s what they signed up for as a recruit, and that’s what they — many of them worked so hard to do when they were younger in high school.
And so, first and foremost for them, but second to that or maybe even as importantly, I think it’s an opportunity for our fans in times like these that we live in to come together, given all the things that are happening in our world, and, you know, the divisiveness on so many different fronts, to come together and for a few hours on a Saturday, put it at all aside, put on the red and white and cheer for the Badgers. And it’s — I think there’s — that’s a special thing, and those opportunities are pretty rare nowadays, to take advantage of that. And, you know, we’ve got a few great ones here in Wisconsin beyond just the Badgers, but it can’t be overstated how important that is.
JOHN MERCURE: Chris, part of the experience for many fans in many different stadiums is alcohol consumption, and it’s moderated and it’s regulated. Alcohol is not served at Badger home games, one of the only teams in the Big 10 that doesn’t serve alcohol. Why not at UW? Do you envision that changing?
CHRIS MCINTOSH: Well, I think it’s changing in college athletics in general right now. If I’m not mistaken, I believe there are eight venues of 14 in the Big 10 that serve alcohol in their stadiums, and there’s a variety of reasons for that. It’s certainly changing. It wasn’t long ago that there were far less, and I don’t know think that we have are head in the sand here on our campus. I do think that there’s an effort to — or acknowledgment rather, of what’s happening around college athletics.
Where do I see it going? It’s too early to know for sure, but there is a shifting trend in college athletics, and it’s one we’re paying attention to.
JOHN MERCURE: I know you’re paying attention to the name, image, likeness issue for college athletics. Is that a good thing or a bad thing for college athletes and athletics?
CHRIS MCINTOSH: I think it can be a really healthy thing for college athletics and for our student athletes. I do believe that there is a productive and healthy way that our student athletes can take advantage of name, image, and likeness. There have been cases or instances, examples, that have popped up at other places across the country that caused me to really wonder, you know, if this is what we had intended to happen.
As a case of a high school student that left high school early to take advantage of name, image, and likeness, I wonder — I question if that’s really what we had intended to take place. There are a couple of other cases in which, you know, I think it’s been turned into something more than what I think is healthy and productive for our student athletes. Here at Wisconsin, our students have benefited from it. I think we’re working with them closely. The way this came about was less than ideal on short notice, you know, we were forced to develop our own policy. I’m happy with where we landed. I think our student athletes are happy with the structure that we’ve created, but, you know, it will be a learning experience. I think — I really do think it can be positive, and I think it can be helpful and healthy, but it’s one that we’re going to have to watch very closel