LETTER TO THE EDITOR: UT track and field alumni displeased with firings

It is with shock and sadness that we Tennessee track & field alumni write this letter today, not only in support of our coaches George Watts and Norbert Elliott but also to call attention to the challenges facing our men's and women's track and cross-country program, a program that merged two years ago, with J.J. Clark as its Director of Track & Field.

This past Friday, we learned that Norbert and George were removed from their coaching positions at UT. Norbert Elliott, Tennessee's sprints and hurdles coach, had been on staff for seven years, coaching athletes who earned 27 All-America certificates. George Watts' tenure with the program spanned 26 years, first as an All-America in cross-country and indoor track while he was a student-athlete at UT, and then holding positions as equipment manager, assistant coach, head cross-country coach, and associate head track & field coach. During his long and successful career, George coached 10 cross-country All-Americans, 33 track & field All-Americans, and 4 Olympians, yet he still managed to make every freshman walk-on feel as though he was an equal member of the team.

George's dedication to his athletes and loyalty to the University are unparalleled, because he knows how to build teams, even in a ruggedly individual sport like track and cross-country. George believed, though, that UT's teams were far larger than just the guys competing at any given time instead, George saw the "team" as one that included current runners and all alumni. At track meets and alumni gatherings with all generation, George bridged the gap between the new guys with the old, introducing runners former and current to each other in order to keep UT's rich tradition alive. Because of George, a former UT track athlete can now stay in touch with a fellow alumnus who graduated in 2010 the same way he could call up another who graduated in 1968. It is difficult to imagine that the large body of UT men's track alumni will ever again be so connected.

It goes without saying, then, that the loss of George Watts, as well as Norbert Elliott, is deeply upsetting to us, the UT track alumni. But our concerns go deeper: we would like to see the men's and women's programs unmerged, returning to the days of separate programs, each with its own head coach.

Please understand that we are all tremendous supporters of Tennessee women's track & field. The success of the women's program continues to be vitally important to us. But coaching a joint program and building alumni relations for a joint program is possible only if the director enjoys coaching and spending time with both teams equally well. That is not the case at UT, where J.J. Clark spends the majority of his time and energy on the women's program, which has seen tremendous success. The men's program, meanwhile, gets few scholarships and little attention, and struggles to reclaim its national prominence.

Marty Sonnenfeldt

Patrick Gildea

Mike Moran

Doug Ellington

Stewart Ellington

Brandon Ally

Chris Kane

Ron Addison

Les Steele

Chris Rapp

Andy Baksa

David Lapp

Matthew Lapp

Tim Bell

Jeff Trembley

Andrew Press

Wilson Wright

Chris Helwick

Kevin Burkin

Chris Platt

Chuck Locke

Matt Maloney

Doug Brown

Josh Hunt

Mike Brodsky

Matthew Patout

Paul Butterfield

Tere Stouffer

Nate Jansen

Jeff Day

Craig Dickenson

Chip Hadler

Tony Cosey

Brent Smith

Steve Klein

Michael Hogue

Malcom Saxton

Richard Wooten

Zach Sabatino

Tyler Devault

Mike Manke

Tom West

Scott Defilippis

Rob Burkhart

Camron Howard

Jon Dewalt

Todd Williams

Get Copyright Permissions © 2011, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2011 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 48

RatherBeDrivingaTitleist writes:

These men are all "Vols For Life". The administration needs to pay attention because this is the heart and soul of UT Track talking. There is a disconnect between athletics and the President of the Univ. at the moment. Mr. Haslam where are you?

FWBVol writes:

It's time to bring Doug Brown back as the men's head track and field coach. Brown knows UT track and is one of the greats in the program. Yes, he's pushing 60, but he is a proven winner and knows what it takes to get the Vols back on top.

ReesePresident writes:

As a student and knowing (good friends with I might add) several runners on the team, I have been told by many of the male distance runners that they have never been spoken to by JJ or even been called the wrong name. He does not know them, he does not care. what kind of "coach" doesn't know his own players? Do you think Dooley ever accidentally calls Tyler Bray "Timothy?" No. Clark rarely sees the mens team, does absolutely nothing to coach it or run it, and therefore needs to no longer be associated with it

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Currently, you account for over 20% of the comments on this page. When you comment more than actual TN fans, do you think maybe you have a problem?

At least I'm sure you'll have the best report for when you go back to school;

What I did on my summer vacation: Trolling Tennessee boards!

LMFAO!

616cm writes:

Men's T&F needs a separate program. They need a coach with incredibly high expectations that will accept nothing but 100% effort on the track and let the men live their lives off the track as they wish. The athletes who want it most will achieve the most. The rest will either stick around or be weeded out. Athletes are soft these days and fans want instant gratification. Neither quality brings the desired results. Coaches talk about how much harder they used to work as athletes. These are former world class athletes and when asked why they don't train their athletes the way they were trained, they say it's because the kids would quit. So let the ones who are too soft go ahead and quit. The ones who want it will get better.

The Administration needs to do away with politics and hire the right coach who will set the right example in terms of expectations of work and results. In my mind, to be a part of the UT team means that there are no options other than to be top 8 in your event. The "in it for the experience" athletes have no place on a team that wants to win. That winning environment starts at the top and trickles down to the rest of the organization. Sometimes change is good when in the form of progression and I hope the university makes the right choices moving forward, whatever they may be. Otherwise, the university will lose the support of a fiercely loyal group of alumni, many of whom were parts of groups that fostered high expectations and top results.

gr82bavolalum writes:

Thank you to the many former athletes who continue to take interest in our University and its Athletic Department. I'm thankful that you care enough to speak up.

dvhill100 writes:

This whole track mess is just smelling worse and worse. We desperately need some adult supervision for our athletic department.

TommyJack writes:

wow

VolsToTheWall writes:

in response to ReesePresident:

As a student and knowing (good friends with I might add) several runners on the team, I have been told by many of the male distance runners that they have never been spoken to by JJ or even been called the wrong name. He does not know them, he does not care. what kind of "coach" doesn't know his own players? Do you think Dooley ever accidentally calls Tyler Bray "Timothy?" No. Clark rarely sees the mens team, does absolutely nothing to coach it or run it, and therefore needs to no longer be associated with it

not many people know the inside's….and reese's is the BEST sponsor of UT athletics amiright????

ReesePresident writes:

in response to VolsToTheWall:

not many people know the inside's….and reese's is the BEST sponsor of UT athletics amiright????

haha I'd have to go with Pilot oil on that one. but take the time to ask any of the male runners to see there opinion on it. notice how not many of those opinions are quoted

hcjournals#206623 writes:

Proud of our track alumni. High bar. Their viewpoints need to be heeded...

jibthe3rd writes:

Have a 5 minute conversation with Clark and you'll see why he is waaaaaaay out of his element. He fired two outstanding coaches because they questioned his abilities. He is a cancer to the track program!

BillVol writes:

Only 47 people signed this letter? (Half of whom I've never heard of.) Hardly a mandate!

Where's Tony Parrilla? John Angel? Chuck Rohe? Phil Bonfiglio? Terry Scott? Tim Pitcher? Willie Gault? Richmond Flowers? Tony Blair? Lawrence Johnson? Justin Gatlin? Sam Graddy? Reggie Jones? Herb Neff? Alf Holmberg? Tim Mack? Randy Jenkins? Chip Kell? Tom Pappas?

Et-frickin'-cetra!

This letter is what is wrong with Tennessee. Cronyism! Cronyism is why we've had five University of Tennessee presidents in the last ten years. Nobody wants to pick the best man or woman for the job. They only want to pick the person who will help their own interests.

This letter is a joke. One coach for combined programs works at many places, such as Texas A & M and Florida. I'd guess most schools have one coach for track and field. I'm not saying J.J. is the guy to lead a combined program. But if he isn't, there is someone who can do it.

616cm writes:

in response to BillVol:

Only 47 people signed this letter? (Half of whom I've never heard of.) Hardly a mandate!

Where's Tony Parrilla? John Angel? Chuck Rohe? Phil Bonfiglio? Terry Scott? Tim Pitcher? Willie Gault? Richmond Flowers? Tony Blair? Lawrence Johnson? Justin Gatlin? Sam Graddy? Reggie Jones? Herb Neff? Alf Holmberg? Tim Mack? Randy Jenkins? Chip Kell? Tom Pappas?

Et-frickin'-cetra!

This letter is what is wrong with Tennessee. Cronyism! Cronyism is why we've had five University of Tennessee presidents in the last ten years. Nobody wants to pick the best man or woman for the job. They only want to pick the person who will help their own interests.

This letter is a joke. One coach for combined programs works at many places, such as Texas A & M and Florida. I'd guess most schools have one coach for track and field. I'm not saying J.J. is the guy to lead a combined program. But if he isn't, there is someone who can do it.

Exactly. I don't care who has the job or gets the job as long as he/she is the right person for the position. That statement applies, not just to the coach position, but the higher ups as well. We can banter back and forth all we want on our silly internet forums, but it means absolutely nothing.

utvolter#1339243 writes:

I want to say thanks to Mike Strange and the Knoxville News Sentinel for helping the alumni express their concern about this situation

Can't say I have much to add. I am torn between my desire to continue to support the team/program that I love, and the current neglect/disregard being shown to the alumni by our athletic administration.

I hope that the decisions that have been made are the correct ones. I fear that they are not.

What I will say is that when a new coach gets hired, typically all the old staff is let go. This situation was unfair to JJ in that he had to keep staff that he may or may not have wanted in the first place. He wasn't given full autonomy of the program that he was supposed to lead. On the other hand, it was very poorly handled by Clark over the past 3 years. He has shown little interest in the men's program and certainly hasn't made an effort to garner support from the male alumni on whose shoulders the program was built. The success of the program has suffered tremendously. As a result, discontent from the alumni was already brewing and the firing of Coach Watts and Coach Elliot caused the dam to break loose.

It is a tragedy that a man like George who has given so much of his life to The University of Tennessee was let go. No wonder our athletic department is in shambles. We alienate the people who are heart and soul Volunteers and promote people who have no underlying loyalty to our university and its GREAT tradition (Jimmy Cheek - Florida, Joan Cronan - LSU, and Mike Hamilton - Clemson) A sad day for the Vols indeed.

utvolter#1339243 writes:

in response to BillVol:

Only 47 people signed this letter? (Half of whom I've never heard of.) Hardly a mandate!

Where's Tony Parrilla? John Angel? Chuck Rohe? Phil Bonfiglio? Terry Scott? Tim Pitcher? Willie Gault? Richmond Flowers? Tony Blair? Lawrence Johnson? Justin Gatlin? Sam Graddy? Reggie Jones? Herb Neff? Alf Holmberg? Tim Mack? Randy Jenkins? Chip Kell? Tom Pappas?

Et-frickin'-cetra!

This letter is what is wrong with Tennessee. Cronyism! Cronyism is why we've had five University of Tennessee presidents in the last ten years. Nobody wants to pick the best man or woman for the job. They only want to pick the person who will help their own interests.

This letter is a joke. One coach for combined programs works at many places, such as Texas A & M and Florida. I'd guess most schools have one coach for track and field. I'm not saying J.J. is the guy to lead a combined program. But if he isn't, there is someone who can do it.

Way to take a strong stance BillVol... Let me paraphrase your point "I don't know who should run the program but it can be done". Thanks for your insight.

The people who signed that letter have multiple SEC championships and All-America awards.... Did you even participate in college athletics or are you one of those trivia people who just sits around and reads about us?

As for the guys you mentioned, many have not had the type of exposure to the program that the guys who signed the letter have. J.J. Clark has only been here for 9 years. Its unreasonable to think that someone like Willie Gault can have a good feel for what is happening with the program by reading the utsports articles. Others have conflicts of interest (Lawrence Johnson coaches at south carolina, Parilla and Mack work with the current athletes or facilities)

Given 8 days to organize, 47 people spanning 30+ years isn't that bad. The real joke is people like you. People who don't have a real opinion and still think that it would matter if they did.

beartn#223846 writes:

I assume that the merger was a Mike Hamilton decision?

Tim_Pitcher writes:

in response to BillVol:

Only 47 people signed this letter? (Half of whom I've never heard of.) Hardly a mandate!

Where's Tony Parrilla? John Angel? Chuck Rohe? Phil Bonfiglio? Terry Scott? Tim Pitcher? Willie Gault? Richmond Flowers? Tony Blair? Lawrence Johnson? Justin Gatlin? Sam Graddy? Reggie Jones? Herb Neff? Alf Holmberg? Tim Mack? Randy Jenkins? Chip Kell? Tom Pappas?

Et-frickin'-cetra!

This letter is what is wrong with Tennessee. Cronyism! Cronyism is why we've had five University of Tennessee presidents in the last ten years. Nobody wants to pick the best man or woman for the job. They only want to pick the person who will help their own interests.

This letter is a joke. One coach for combined programs works at many places, such as Texas A & M and Florida. I'd guess most schools have one coach for track and field. I'm not saying J.J. is the guy to lead a combined program. But if he isn't, there is someone who can do it.

Here is the addition of my name to this letter of SUPPORT Coach Watts.

He is the coach who developed me into the school record holder and run in the 1996 Olympic trials but more important than either of those two accomplishment he developed me in a man.

As for the others you wanted to respond most of them you listed were sprinters or field events people some of whom are way before George or still being involved with the program and can't say anything.

Colliervol writes:

No need to comment much. The letter says it all.

dvols writes:

they just need to shut up and run faster....

AllenEtheridge writes:

dvols: Most of these guys are too old to run faster (especially Marty...). The list does include a 27:31 10,000 runner and a sub-8:30 steepler, so there's not much "faster" in them anyway.

I don't know J.J. Clark, but I do know George Watts and am disheartened to see him go this way. He's one of the top handful of 800m coaches in the country, for sure, and he's a relentless and honest recruiter who gets a lot out of a little.

AE

tovolny writes:

CHEEK? CHEEK...!!!! COME ON MMMAAANNNN!!!!

Take a bow and hit the road. Haslam goes to Nashville and all aell breaks out. Leaving Hamilton and Cheek alone to make decisions, is like leaving two 2-year olds alone to play with candles...there is going to be smoke and fire.

Does UT have a President or somebody that can get Cheek out of the command module?

VolNExile writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Ummm, maybe they support Dooley? Sheesh...

Chris4Vols22 writes:

Scandalous!

markintopton writes:

in response to BillVol:

Only 47 people signed this letter? (Half of whom I've never heard of.) Hardly a mandate!

Where's Tony Parrilla? John Angel? Chuck Rohe? Phil Bonfiglio? Terry Scott? Tim Pitcher? Willie Gault? Richmond Flowers? Tony Blair? Lawrence Johnson? Justin Gatlin? Sam Graddy? Reggie Jones? Herb Neff? Alf Holmberg? Tim Mack? Randy Jenkins? Chip Kell? Tom Pappas?

Et-frickin'-cetra!

This letter is what is wrong with Tennessee. Cronyism! Cronyism is why we've had five University of Tennessee presidents in the last ten years. Nobody wants to pick the best man or woman for the job. They only want to pick the person who will help their own interests.

This letter is a joke. One coach for combined programs works at many places, such as Texas A & M and Florida. I'd guess most schools have one coach for track and field. I'm not saying J.J. is the guy to lead a combined program. But if he isn't, there is someone who can do it.

Many were too late to get their signature on the letter. Add mine.

Mark Branch
1973-1976

vols1#232727 writes:

We could add a list of 30 plus names to this letter from a group known as the "Ancients". We are on organized group of TN T & F and Cross country guys that participated in the late 1940s and 1950s. This group sponsored the Alf Holmberg Athletic Scholorship Fund. A fully funded T& F Scholorship. Coach Watts was a bridge for us to UT and was also a contributor to this Fund. His loss will be long felt by the University!

AllenEtheridge writes:

I don't know J.J. Clark, but I do know George Watts as one of the friendliest, most knowledgeable, and best-connected college track coaches I've ever run into. He has always had time for us high school coaches, whether talking about our seasons, coming to local meets, advising on workouts and training, or just saying hi at Tom Black Track. He has bothered to recruit and develop local athletes over the years and has cultivated relationships with the coaches who send them to UT to run. George is also undeniably one of the best 800m coaches in the nation, having produced an unreal number of sub-1:50 guys over the years and even a sub-1:44. I really hate to see him go.

AE

thetrollhunter writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors_Daddy:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

And your still trying to troll?? Man, you really need a girlfriend. Hahaha

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

the list is almost as long as the gaturd football team's arrest list under urban lier. i said almost. 31 (lier) + 2 (muschump) = 33

jrc25 writes:

George Watts was the only track coach left at Tennessee. What a smart move!

richvol writes:

in response to ReesePresident:

As a student and knowing (good friends with I might add) several runners on the team, I have been told by many of the male distance runners that they have never been spoken to by JJ or even been called the wrong name. He does not know them, he does not care. what kind of "coach" doesn't know his own players? Do you think Dooley ever accidentally calls Tyler Bray "Timothy?" No. Clark rarely sees the mens team, does absolutely nothing to coach it or run it, and therefore needs to no longer be associated with it

If any of this is even remotely true then there is NO excuse for JJ's attitude towards the men's track program and he should be removed immediately as coach of same. This type of effort by ANY coach towards their team is BS.

UTKin1992 writes:

It's abundantly clear that former head idiot Mike Hamilton, completely mismanaged our athletic department and put the day-to-day management of coaches on autopilot. No direction or leadership whatsoever. They just did what they wanted...kinda like this JJ imbicile.

ReesePresident writes:

in response to richvol:

If any of this is even remotely true then there is NO excuse for JJ's attitude towards the men's track program and he should be removed immediately as coach of same. This type of effort by ANY coach towards their team is BS.

also forgot to add this note: I was introduced to him once and he thought I was on the UT men's distance team (I quit running after high school). Can you imagine this happening in any other UT sport? It just continues to show how little he knows about the men's team

DocKJM writes:

in response to beartn#223846:

I assume that the merger was a Mike Hamilton decision?

YES of course his FINGER PRINTS show up again on another program within UT that is a mess!

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Mike Hamilton was the athletic director. Jimmy Cheek is NOT the "overseer of athletics." He is the chancellor of the university and the VAST majority of his attention and efforts SHOULD BE and are on the academic aspects of the university.

alwaysaweezel writes:

in response to DocKJM:

YES of course his FINGER PRINTS show up again on another program within UT that is a mess!

Not only was Mike Hamilton involved, but Joan Cronin was as well. I am sure it wouldn't surprise anyone to learn that JJ fired Watts and Elliott right after Hamilton was fired and Cronan took over as "Acting AD." Cronan wanted Clark at UT. She wanted those two programs to merge. Those two saw an opportunity here, and they took it. Watts is just the scapegoat... give it another 3 years. We will never recover.

VolNExile writes:

in response to alfrizzle097:

Mike Hamilton was the athletic director. Jimmy Cheek is NOT the "overseer of athletics." He is the chancellor of the university and the VAST majority of his attention and efforts SHOULD BE and are on the academic aspects of the university.

Thank you!

I honestly don't care one way or another about Jimmy Cheek and whether he's a Florida mole and everything else. I just get tired of everyone acting like his only job is to meddle in UT athletics. It's not.

IIRC, the AD used to report directly to the UT president. But since it's a campus department rather than university-wide, they switched it so that it reports to the head of the campus, i.e., the chancellor.

He has a lot more to do with his time than micro-manage the athletic department.

LordWebb writes:

in response to richvol:

If any of this is even remotely true then there is NO excuse for JJ's attitude towards the men's track program and he should be removed immediately as coach of same. This type of effort by ANY coach towards their team is BS.

Sadly it is all true. After practice one day I was walking home and passed JJ on the sidewalk. I said hello and he just ignored me. I was confused until I later found out that he didn't recognize me even though I had been competing for the track team for four years. Still not sure if he knows my name.

Say what you want about Watts and Elliot, but they knew every single athlete on the team and would always come cheer us on at practice. Whether we were one of "their" athletes or not.

Noclevername writes:

Here's another point, I dont think anyone involved in track can criticize JJ for not being a great middle distance and distance coach. But that's all he is, NOT a director. If you look back at the 2009 NCAA INDOOR title it was won entirely by distance events, There was ONE sprinter and ONE thrower and then go on to finish 10th outdoor. Then in 2010 the women were 2nd indoor then 26th outdoor. How is it that they are so competitive indoor and irrelevant outdoor? Because the only thing JJ cares about is womens middle distance, not even the entire womens team, because if he did wouldn't he have hired a womens sprints coach with some kind of experience for this last hire? What athlete wants to come run for a coach with ZERO coaching experience? So the same stands for the mens team. Now that he is going to coach mens distance it will be interesting to see how he does. The bottom line here is JJ is a distance coach only and should never have been named Director because he could really care less how other athlete's perform.

83Vol writes:

in response to Noclevername:

Here's another point, I dont think anyone involved in track can criticize JJ for not being a great middle distance and distance coach. But that's all he is, NOT a director. If you look back at the 2009 NCAA INDOOR title it was won entirely by distance events, There was ONE sprinter and ONE thrower and then go on to finish 10th outdoor. Then in 2010 the women were 2nd indoor then 26th outdoor. How is it that they are so competitive indoor and irrelevant outdoor? Because the only thing JJ cares about is womens middle distance, not even the entire womens team, because if he did wouldn't he have hired a womens sprints coach with some kind of experience for this last hire? What athlete wants to come run for a coach with ZERO coaching experience? So the same stands for the mens team. Now that he is going to coach mens distance it will be interesting to see how he does. The bottom line here is JJ is a distance coach only and should never have been named Director because he could really care less how other athlete's perform.

You've identified the core problem: apparently Clark is a good coach within the middle distance discipline but is not succeeding as the Director. The job is more than a title; it's a completely different role for which he is unprepared and from accounts noted here and on other articles in the past week he is not adapting.

VolNExile writes:

in response to 83Vol:

You've identified the core problem: apparently Clark is a good coach within the middle distance discipline but is not succeeding as the Director. The job is more than a title; it's a completely different role for which he is unprepared and from accounts noted here and on other articles in the past week he is not adapting.

lol, why does this remind me of all the "Fulmer for AD" posts? Someone can be a great coach but not necessarily a good administrator.

Even so, it's pretty sad not to at least recognize athletes who play for you.

gbo78 writes:

Combining the administrator (AD) position is workable with the right person but men and women need separate coaches. And, each coach needs to be very strong to meet the high expectations. Can you imagine one coach for men's and women's basketball having enough time, energy, and ability to succeed? T&F is no different and arguably more challenging to coach than BB given that it is really multiple sports combined into one.

KevDVol writes:

in response to BillVol:

Only 47 people signed this letter? (Half of whom I've never heard of.) Hardly a mandate!

Where's Tony Parrilla? John Angel? Chuck Rohe? Phil Bonfiglio? Terry Scott? Tim Pitcher? Willie Gault? Richmond Flowers? Tony Blair? Lawrence Johnson? Justin Gatlin? Sam Graddy? Reggie Jones? Herb Neff? Alf Holmberg? Tim Mack? Randy Jenkins? Chip Kell? Tom Pappas?

Et-frickin'-cetra!

This letter is what is wrong with Tennessee. Cronyism! Cronyism is why we've had five University of Tennessee presidents in the last ten years. Nobody wants to pick the best man or woman for the job. They only want to pick the person who will help their own interests.

This letter is a joke. One coach for combined programs works at many places, such as Texas A & M and Florida. I'd guess most schools have one coach for track and field. I'm not saying J.J. is the guy to lead a combined program. But if he isn't, there is someone who can do it.

First of all, most of the athletes signing the letter are former track Vols: Head Coaches, Captains, All-Americans, National Champions and Olympians. Many of the signers are still very connected to UT Track or Knoxville Track and Field. Willie Gault's signature would not make this problem any more serious or real. The letter does not say that a combined program cannot work. It just points out that the Men's program was much better off when lead separately by a Men's Head Coach and that J. J. Clark has neglected the Men's track program in his role as Head Coach of the Combined program.

Try listening to the message instead of taking pot shots at the messenger. You seriously don't need Jacques Cousteau to tell you that water is wet. And, anyone can read SEC meet results to see where our Men's Track and Field program stands today.

alwaysaweezel writes:

Unfortunately, they are not going to budge until the new AD is hired (which by the looks of it, could be a long, long time). It's a shame that they will let "Directors" fire people without an AD at the helm, but they won't do anything themselves to fix anything...

Cronan needs to get her head out of her rear before she taints her reputation. She has had so much success with the women's program... Step up to the plate and fix what's wrong here! Solidify your legacy Cronan! Get out of the sandpit with Clark and think about what's right for the university and NOT for you.

JJVols98-00 writes:

You can add my name to the letter of Support fo Coach Watts as well.

As a Junior Transfer in 1998, Coach Watts helped me in many ways, and more than just running, as I know he has done for so many more. It always amazed me how many people he cared about. He cared about the walk-on athletes as much as he did his scholarship athletes. He cared about the athletes who were not in his charge, and he had the respect of everyone. I learned so many life-lessons from Coach Watts, many that I still use today in my coaching career. I give much of the credit for the success that my athletes have had to Coach Watts, because w/o his guidance and support over the years, I would not know half of the things I now know.

One of the greatest parts of my time in Tennessee was meeting all the great alumi, includeing Alf Holmberg when he came back to the states to visit. Coach Watts not only taught us about the history of our program, but he also showed it to us by allowing us to meet, face-to-face, many of the great alumnis that came before us. Coach Clark has some giant shoes to fill, and from the comments I've read on him, it doesn't look like he can fill them.

George was the True Orange and White Vol and it is truly the end of an era and an end to the credibility of our programs when you let someone who has devoted his whole life to the Vol Nation, and allow someone to control the program who does not have the same passion for every athlete as Coach Watts did.

Jon Jamison

ReesePresident writes:

something else everyone needs to remember, coaching guys and girls is different. It doesn't translate over exactly. While being a great girls coach probably doesn't hurt your potential ability to coach guys, it doesn't guarantee it either

29bwc writes:

in response to utvolter#1339243:

Way to take a strong stance BillVol... Let me paraphrase your point "I don't know who should run the program but it can be done". Thanks for your insight.

The people who signed that letter have multiple SEC championships and All-America awards.... Did you even participate in college athletics or are you one of those trivia people who just sits around and reads about us?

As for the guys you mentioned, many have not had the type of exposure to the program that the guys who signed the letter have. J.J. Clark has only been here for 9 years. Its unreasonable to think that someone like Willie Gault can have a good feel for what is happening with the program by reading the utsports articles. Others have conflicts of interest (Lawrence Johnson coaches at south carolina, Parilla and Mack work with the current athletes or facilities)

Given 8 days to organize, 47 people spanning 30+ years isn't that bad. The real joke is people like you. People who don't have a real opinion and still think that it would matter if they did.

Curious to see what his answer is to your question...guessing he is nothing but a trivia(l) person.

Vols5344 writes:

First of all, JJ had nothing to do with the decline of the men's program. The recruiting went through a major slump the last few years that Web was the head coach. When JJ took over all of the SEC and All American guys were on their way out due to eligibility. He had nothing to do with the quality of athletes that have been brought in recently. Also, you consistantly criticise him for the men's team going down hill, but he is NOT the one coaching them. Watts and Elliot were still coaching their respective groups. All JJ did was oversee them. JJ's title changed, but the men's coaches kept the same responsibilities. Why are you still blaming JJ because of the men's performance. He didn't coach the men the last two years. He was just the director of both programs. If you want to complain about performance then you need to look at the facts. Elliot and Watts were recruiting and coaching those guys, so they need to be held responsible. JJ was just the figure head. You guys are basically backing JJ's decision to move forward with a new staff. You want change because the program is declining, so that's exactly what he's doing. Like I stated earlier, he wasn't the one coaching those guys, so because of the decline that you guys are talking about he needs to make a change.
...

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.

Features