Thirty-six years after he graduated from Syracuse University, John Wildhack has returned to his alma mater as its new athletic director.

Wildhack was introduced Tuesday to a nearly full auditorium in the university's football wing by Chancellor Kent Syverud, who chaired a search committee that included new football coach Dino Babers.

A Buffalo native, Wildhack ends a 36-year tenure at ESPN, where he had risen to executive vice president for programming and production. He joined the cable sports network after graduating from Syracuse in 1980.

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Wildhack assumes a position vacated in early May by Mark Coyle, who came to Syracuse from Boise State but left after less than a year on the job. Coyle bolted for the same position at the University of Minnesota.