Several UT sports coaches spoke Wednesday about the hiring of Tennessee's new athletic director, John Currie.
In one way or another, all of Holly Warlick, Dave Serrano, Ralph Weekly, and Alison Ojeda said they were getting a likable man who they could work with in Currie.
Tennessee announced the hiring of the former Kansas State University AD Tuesday. The move polarized fans, many of whom were dead set on Chattanooga AD David Blackburn or former Vols football coach Phillip Fulmer. For the coaches, however, the tone was unanimously more welcoming.
"I think it's great," Lady Vols basketball coach Holly Warlick said. "I'm anxious for him to get here and get his regime in here and get going."
Warlick said she remembered seeing Currie at Lady Vols games when he worked at UT as an assistant athletics director from 1997 to 2009. The two talked on the phone Tuesday; Warlick described him as "fired up."
"Both he and Mike Hamilton [former Tennessee Athletic Director, 2003-2011] were always supportive of our program," Warlick said. "I anticipate he's going to do the same thing. Obviously he's raised a large amount of money at K-State, but I think he understands our needs here because he went to school here, he's been here."
Warlick also said Currie apologized for not being able to attend the Lady Vols' SEC tournament game Thursday due to his press conference. She said she appreciated the thought.
Softball coach Ralph Weekly also got to know Currie when he and his wife, Karen, took over the team in 2002.
"I think he's a great guy," Weekly said. "I don't know how he would be as an athletic director, but I'm sure the search committee made the right choice."
One coach who might be the most prepared for a Currie regime is women's tennis coach Alison Ojeda. Ojeda, a 2002 alum of UTK and in her first season as head coach, interviewed for a coaching job at Kansas State when Currie was at the helm there.
"He and his staff are honestly the only reason why I even considered it," Ojeda, who was coaching at Baylor University at the time, said. "During that hiring process, I really got to know him. I think he's a fantastic guy."
Ojeda and Currie kept in touch after Ojeda opted to stay at Baylor.
"He sent me a text a couple months ago out of the blue, just saying 'Hey, I want to wish you the best this upcoming season. You're going to do a great job,'" Ojeda said. "Then all of a sudden he gets hired yesterday. For me, selfishly, I'm thrilled...I think he's going to do a fantastic job here."
Vols baseball coach Dave Serrano served as an assistant coach at Tennessee in 1995 and 1996, before Currie worked in Knoxville. He returned as head coach in 2012.
"I'm anxious to get to work with him and see all the good things he does for this university," Serrano said.
Ojeda and Serrano both acknowledged outgoing athletic director Dave Hart.
"My thoughts, emotionally as a human being are bittersweet," Ojeda said. "This is my absolute dream job and Dave Hart has given me the opportunity to be here. None of us would be in that situation if it wasn't for him."
Serrano, who has the led the Vols to a 6-1 start in 2017, thanked Hart and his wife, Pam, in his opening statement.
"Dave gave me an opportunity to continue to get this thing right with this program, and I'll forever be indebted to him for that," Serrano said.
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