UT Athletics Director Dave Hart
Commentary by David Climer | The Tennessean
Vols fans who are anxious for a coaching change are trusting Dave Hart
to call upon all his experience and insight and make the correct
Hart's fire/hire record with coaches at UT:
* He elevated Holly Warlick to Lady Vols basketball coach when Pat Summitt announced her semi-retirement.
* He hired Brian Pensky to coach the women's soccer team.
for the perception Hart has streamlined and cut out the fat at UT's
athletics department, some numbers indicate exactly the opposite. When
Hart was hired, the support staff consisted of six senior associate ADs,
11 associate ADs and seven assistant ADs. The organization shows one
executive senior AD, six senior associate ADs, 13 associate ADs and 10
And you think the bureaucracy in Washington is bad.
How would you like to be in charge of bringing the doughnuts to Hart's
next staff meeting?
OK, OK. Hart has been around the
intercollegiate athletics block a few times. He's been athletics
director at East Carolina and Florida State, the latter for 13 years.
More recently, he served as second-in-command at Alabama, working under
That's the same Mal Moore who hired Nick Saban.
it's also the same Mal Moore who hired Mike Price, Dennis Franchione
and Mike Shula before finally getting it right with Saban.
I'm not saying Hart isn't capable of handling this. It's just that a
decision of this magnitude should not fall to one person.
would a system president, a university chancellor, its board of trustees
and leading financial supporters distance themselves from the Derek
Dooley debate? Why wouldn't everyone with a significant leadership role
at the school insist he or she is involved?
This should be a group
decision, not something decided in a vacuum by one person. Hart may be
the athletics director -- or the vice chancellor/director of athletics
for those reading from the organizational chart -- but the future of UT
football is bigger than any one individual.
Former UT President
Joe Johnson knew the score. He famously called the athletics department
"the front porch of the university." And at UT, the football program is
the first step to that front porch. A look at those distinctive orange
jerseys on TV is the first exposure most of the country gets to the
It's either that or the story about alcohol enemas on frat row.
But quality leadership has been in short supply at UT for years -- and it has left a mark.
1999, the president's office has been manned by such dignitaries as J.
Wade Gilley (who resigned for "health reasons" after the university
turned up 400-plus pages of emails that appeared to link him
romantically with an underling), John Shumaker (who ran up a $30,000 tab
for using the university plane for personal travel) and John Petersen
(whose wife verbally attacked a donor at the UT president's residence).
UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek hasn't been taken seriously since August 2010
when he sided with then-athletics director Mike Hamilton in support of
embattled Vols basketball coach Bruce Pearl, who had admitted to the
indefensible act of lying to NCAA investigators.
At a press
conference that should live in infamy, Cheek said: "Bruce is our coach
and he's going to be our coach for many years. We're going to get
through this adversity."
Seven months later, UT fired Pearl. At that time, Cheek released a statement that said in part:
"Mike Hamilton has my support. I join him in looking forward to continued success."
Less than four months later, Hamilton resigned under pressure.
that as background, why not take another look at the football program?
Considering the chaos elsewhere at UT, maybe Derek Dooley isn't doing
such a bad job after all.
David Climer's columns appear on Friday, Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. Contact him at 615-259-8020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.