Tennessee is moving forward on filling two coaching positions, men’s athletic director Mike Hamilton said Wednesday.
Hamilton said a resolution with former strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith has been reached and the process of naming his replacement is going forward.
There are growing indications that replacement will be Aaron Ausmus, a former UT track and field athlete who has been strength coach at North Texas University.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is deciding which direction to go in replacing men’s track and field coach Bill Webb, who retired last month.
One option is combining the men’s and women’s programs under a director of track and field.
Smith was hired in December by new football coach Lane Kiffin. In late May, however, Kiffin began the process of ousting Smith.
Smith balked at leaving because he wouldn’t be paid his salary if he resigned. He had a two-year agreement worth a total of nearly $400,000.
Hamilton confirmed UT will pay Smith the two years of compensation owed according to his memorandum of understanding for separation without cause.
“We’ll pay that over the remaining time, mitigated by any new job he should undertake,” Hamilton said.
Ausmus has been speculated to be the leading candidate and signs on Wednesday pointed to that. The North Texas University employment Web site advertises a vacancy for strength coach, effective June 17.
Ausmus worked at Ole Miss in 2005 when UT assistant coach Ed Orgeron was coach of the Rebels. Ausmus was also on the strength staff at Southern Cal when Kiffin and Orgeron were there in 2002-03.
Ausmus served as a part-time assistant strength and conditioning coach at UT (2000-01) and was a strength and conditioning graduate assistant with the Vols from August 1998 to January 2000.
Hamilton is also interviewing candidates for the track vacancy with options on which approach to take.
“Do we hire a men’s coach or do we hire a director of track and field?” Hamilton said.
“We haven’t resolved exactly what direction we’re going to go and in some cases, the candidates might determine that.’’
Combining the men’s and women’s track programs would be an unprecedented move for UT, at least on the field. Several administrative areas have been streamlined.
Women’s coach J.J. Clark, who has won two indoor national championships at UT, would be a candidate for director if the two teams are combined, Hamilton said.
“Some programs in the country have a director and then have combined men’s and women’s programs,’’ Hamilton said.
“There’s two sides to that equation. Some of those programs have gone on to be very successful, both the men’s and women’s programs. And in some, one or the other program may not be as successful as the other.
“So we’re reviewing. This is a time in history when we can review whether or not that’s the right thing for the university.’’
Eight SEC schools have combined programs. The only ones with separate coaching staffs are Arkansas, Alabama and, to this point, Tennessee. Vanderbilt doesn’t have men’s track.
Task Force: A university task force will be looking at athletics and to whom the men’s and women’s departments should report, it was revealed Wednesday at the UT Board of Trustees meeting.
“While the Vols are extremely successful,’’ said interim president Dr. Jan Simek, “in harder times, who knows?’’
Hamilton and women’s AD Joan Cronan were at the meeting but did not speak to the board.