(DOTHAN)--John Hartwell stood in front of the Dothan-Houston County Rotary Club this afternoon addressing several topics such as continuing to upgrade Troy's athletic facilities to conference realignment.
Hartwell became Troy Athletic Director in October 2012, taking over for Steve Dennis who had been there for seven and a half years.
"I'm loving the transition, I've been on the job now for about four months now and my wife keeps reminding me I'm not in the 'Honey Moon phase' any more," said Hartwell.
Hartwell, a native of Mobile, Alabama served as the Treasurer and Chief Operating Officer at the University of Mississippi. Hartwell had day-to-day oversight of Football, Men's Basketball, Baseball, along with sport oversight of Men's and Women's Track, Cross-Country and Softball.
Hartwell began by addressing his view on student-athlete's and their roles.
"They are students first. At Troy University we put a premium on education and making sure our athletes know their education comes first," he said.
Hartwell's overall goal for Troy Athletics to be the best in the Sun Belt conference. He acknowldeged that while the football team finished (5-7) this past season, it will take time to build-up recruiting and state-of-the-art facilities.
"Education is top priority but if winning wasn't important we wouldn't spend millions of dollars on scoreboards," said Hartwell.
Troy just unveiled their new $43 million dollar basketball facility, Trojan Arena, back in November. Given his nine and a half years of experience at Ole Miss Hartwell says it's state of the art facilities that help land big recruits.
"We have to have what I like to call 'The Wow-factor' with recruits," said Hartwell.
"Big-time athletics is an arms race nowadays. In order to attract 18,19, 20-year old big-name recruits we must continue to upgrade our facilities to make sure they're on par with the best in the nation," he said.
Trojan Arena sets a good precedent for the "Wow-factor." While Hartwell acknowldeges it seats a fourth of Kentucky's Rupp Arena, he's had several SEC friends and colleagues comment on the new basketball facility at Troy University.
"Probably some of the most unbiased opinions having been in the SEC for nine and a half years, I have many friends in the coaching profession in the SEC, several of whom have made that trek down Highway 231...and have stopped in to see our arena," said Hartwell
"To see the look on their faces, when they look around and say it's as nice if not nicer than any place in the SEC...if that's not an ultimate recruiting tool then I don't know what is" he said.
Hartwell encouraged people to come to Troy on Thursday, February 14th for a double-header in men's and women's basketball. The Trojans are hosting Florida International.
The women are scheduled to tip-off around 5:15 p.m. while men are slated for 7:30 p.m.
Also, this weekend Troy baseball begins their season with a 4-game homestand against Florida A&M.