Media Press Release



Members will begin their six-year terms starting this fall

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee today announced Jennifer Cohen (University of Southern California) and Mark Harlan (University of Utah) will join the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council as new members. Cohen will replace Sandy Barbour (retired Pennsylvania State University) and Harlan will replace Gene Smith (retired Ohio State University); both Barbour and Smith are founding members of the USOPC CAC and have completed their terms. 

“Now more than ever, it’s critical the Olympic and Paralympic movements remain closely tethered to the college landscape and to the college administrators who are supporting current and aspiring Team USA student-athletes on campus,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “We’re thrilled to welcome Mark and Jen to the College Advisory Council – both have a tremendous passion for Olympic and Paralympic sport, their universities play an important role in developing the country’s elite athletes, and we know they will help drive this work forward." 

Cohen and Harlan will begin their appointments at the council’s annual meeting at the Women Leaders in Sports national convention this fall. As the council reconvenes following the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024, it remains focused on its mission to strengthen and lead collaboration efforts to align the college athletic landscape and Olympic and Paralympic movements to support Team USA college athletes. The council’s work is rooted in three priority areas: strengthening the pathway for athletes competing in both the college and Team USA systems, messaging the value of college sports on campus, and aligning stakeholders to enhance development opportunities.

Cohen, director of athletics at the USC, joins the council with more than 30 years of experience in supporting student-athletes on campus. USC is home to 23 Division I athletic programs and the school is renowned for its Olympic history – which dates back to 1904. The Trojans celebrate having more Olympians, overall medalists and gold medalists than any other university in the United States. At the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, USC had the third-most athletes on Team USA, including 10 Trojan medalists. As part of her appointment, Cohen will be an at-large representative and serve as the council’s liaison to Women Leaders in Sports. With the Olympic and Paralympic Games returning to Los Angeles in 2028, Cohen and her team are already primed to welcome the world to their campus.

“I’m grateful and humbled to serve the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council, and it’s an honor to represent USC Athletics and to partner with like-minded leaders who value and support Team USA’s collegiate athletes,” said Cohen. “Olympic and Paralympic sports are foundational to our institution and vital to the national landscape of collegiate athletics, and I’m excited to collaborate with fellow council members to further support these critical programs.”

In his role as athletics director at Utah, Harlan brings nearly three decades of experience working in college sports, and he currently oversees a department that provides programming and support services to more than 500 student-athletes annually. The university also boasts a deep-rooted history of success at the Olympic Winter Games, with the Ute’s U.S. Olympic skiing legacy dating back to the 1940s. Most recently, during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, nearly 14% of the entire 2022 U.S. Olympic Team competed at or attended the University of Utah. Harlan will join the council as an at-large representative.

“It is a great honor to be called to serve on the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council, and to contribute to the collaboration that will bring even greater alignment between our country’s intercollegiate athletics organizations and the work of the Olympic and Paralympic movements to support the collegiate athletes who compete for Team USA,” Harlan said. “The University of Utah is uniquely positioned to play a strong role in these efforts, with Salt Lake City’s history and future aspirations as an Olympic Games host, as well as the 30-plus Team USA athletes affiliated with the university who competed in the 2022 Winter Games.”

With the addition of Cohen and Harlan, the 12-member council will be comprised of:

·         Bernard Muir (Stanford University/USOPC CAC chair)

·         Greg Byrne (University of Alabama)

·         Jen Cohen (University of Southern California)

·         ^Lauren Crandall (Wake Forest University)

·         Bubba Cunningham (University of North Carolina/USOPC board representative)

·         Mark Harlan (University of Utah)

·         ^Jessica Heims (University of Northern Iowa)

·         ^Chaunté Lowe (Georgia Institute of Technology)

·         Rob Mullens (University of Oregon)

·         Jamie Pollard (Iowa State University)

·         ^Kendall Spencer (University of New Mexico)

·         Scott Stricklin (University of Florida)

^Denotes athlete representative

“We’re excited to bring Jen and Mark into the fold and are incredibly grateful for their willingness to lean-in and serve on our Collegiate Advisory Council,” said Bernard Muir, USOPC CAC chair and director of athletics at Stanford University. “Both have done an incredible job at their respective institutions, and their unique perspectives and experiences will be invaluable to the group as we welcome them this fall.”

Barbour served as chair of the council’s messaging initiative and played an integral role in launching the USOPC’s Olympians and Paralympians Made Here campaign. Meanwhile, Smith had a lasting impact on the USOPC College Sports Sustainability Think Tank, where he spearheaded the effort to prompt increased sport-specific collaboration and communication between the NCAA, USOPC and NGB communities.

The USOPC CAC will convene its first meeting with the new leaders on Oct. 13 in Baltimore. 


The USOPC collegiate partnerships department launched in 2016 to help bridge the important connection between the collegiate and Olympic/Paralympic landscapes. With the majority of Team USA athletes competing collegiately during their athletics journeys, the department focuses on three primary areas: aligning leaders to advance athletic programming on campus, removing impediments faced by college athletes competing both intercollegiatly and in the Team USA system, and messaging the value of Olympic/Paralympic sport opportunities on campus. More information can be found at