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Asked what John Hartwell is like, former Troy punter Jason Wright was quick with a description, remembering the many moments Hartwell took time to chat with Troy's former athletes and fans.

"He is aggressive, but a good man," Wright said. "It doesn't matter who you are, he will shake your hand and give you a 20-minute conversation, and he showed he cared about who he hired and his athletes. He got this program moving in the right direction."

Now hope is Hartwell will keep the Utah State Aggies moving in the right direction.

Hartwell was officially announced as the Aggies' new vice president and director of athletics on Tuesday.

He replaces Scott Barnes, who left the Aggies to become the AD at Pitt.

Hartwell will be introduced Wednesday in an 11 a.m. news conference in the Wayne Estes Center. The event is open to the public and will be streamed via the internet at http://www.utahstateaggies.com and KVNU 610 AM.

Hartwell will begin his duties in mid-July.

"My family and I are very honored and blessed for the opportunity to become part of the Aggie family and join the rich tradition and storied history of Utah State Athletics," he said in a news release. "We are stepping into a situation where Scott did a tremendous job and Randy (Spetman) before him and our intention is to continue to move forward the level of success with USU athletics."

Like Barnes, Hartwell has built a reputation as a very good fundraiser. He initiated several upgrades to Troy's athletic facilities, including the addition of a new practice facility for the golf teams, a $3 million renovation of the softball complex and a $2.1 million upgrade to Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Wright, a punter from 2002-06, said Hartwell won over Troy fans and athletes because he was a good communicator.

"He is a rising star in my opinion," Wright said. "He was energetic and made some good hires."

Within the past year, three of Hartwell's new coaching hires — Beth Mullins (softball), Scott Kidd (men's tennis) and Bart Barnes (women's golf) — have been named Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year.

Troy also signed a footwear and apparel deal with Adidas and saw a record number of student-athletes earn a 3.0 grade-point-average, with 57 percent earning a 3.0 or higher.

"We are delighted and thrilled to welcome John Hartwell and his wife, Heather, to the USU Aggie family," Utah State president Stan L. Albrecht said in the release. "As soon as we learned that Scott Barnes would be leaving, we initiated a very aggressive search to find just the right person to replace him, someone who would build upon and extend our successes."

Longtime Troy supporter Brian Ross said fans were still in some shock and a bit of mourning that Hartwell was leaving the program.

"The major concern will be how to replace him because he did so much," Ross said. "He had an ability to connect to each fan or donor whether they were donating six figures or $500. He made everybody feel like they were a part of the program here and that goes a long way at a small school like Troy."

Hartwell also served on the NCAA Division I Basketball Issues Committee and the Division I-A Board of Trustees Executive Committee as the Sun Belt representative.

Prior to Troy, Hartwell spent nine years at Mississippi, where he was the senior executive associate athletics director.

Hartwell is a 1987 graduate of The Citadel, where he was a three-year starting forward.

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