University of Tennessee Athletic Director and Dave Hart announced his retirement Thursday.

Hart’s retirement is effective June 30, 2017.

At a news conference Thursday, Hart said “it was time” for his retirement.

“It became pretty apparent because of where our program is, because the university is under transitional leadership,” Hart said.

Hart called his career an "incredible journey," and said he hoped people within the athletic department felt that they were treated with respect.

“Dave’s greatest accomplishment is making UT a student-athlete-focused department,” UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in a release. “His drive for comprehensive excellence has touched all facets of athletics.”

Cheek said under Hart’s leadership, UT student-athletes have the highest overall grand point average in the history of the program.

The announcement of Hart’s retirement comes after multiple sexual assault cases against university football players, a $2.48 million settlement due to a federal gender discrimination lawsuit, the removal of the Lady Vols name for all sports except women’s basketball and the departures of a number university leaders in the athletics and academics departments.

Hart said the federal lawsuit did not prompt his decision to retire, and that the university was "stronger for it."

On Thursday, Hart said UT underwent many changes during his tenure.

"I’ve never been offended with somebody disagreeing with any decision,” Hart said. “I’m human like everyone else. You always look back and assess and say ‘hey could we have done something differently? Could we do something better?’"

Hart said someone in a major college athletics leadership position has to have "tough skin."

“Leaders don't disseminate the bullets, they take the bullets. Leaders don't disappear," Hart said. "They go out front, and when you do that, there will be some negative feedback."

Cheek plans to step aside from his role as chancellor and into a role with UT’s faculty.

The Knoxville Police Department reassigned Officer Sam Brown from his position as liaison to the UT football program after he held the position for almost 20 years.

UT Director of Football Operations Chris Spognardi is on paid administrative leave, and was relieved of his duties, according to GoVols247.

UT Vice Chancellor for Communications Margie Nichols announced her retirement in February.

Former UT Office of Diversity and Inclusion chief Rickey Hall announced in May he was leaving for a similar position with the University of Washington.

UT named Hart vice chancellor and director of athletics on Sept. 5, 2011.

Hart hired football coach Butch Jones, soccer coach Brian Pensky, men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes, women’s basketball coach Holly Warlick, track and field coach Beth Alford-Sullivan and named Matt Kredich to lead a combined swimming and diving program.

Prior to coming to Tennessee, Hart held leadership in the athletics departments at East Carolina University, Florida State University and the University of Alabama.

Hart played basketball at Alabama and graduated in 1971. He earned his master's degree from Alabama in 1972.

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