Tennessee officially had interest in a target for its vacant athletic director position confirmed by his boss.
Just as publicly, Joe Alleva made clear he wouldn’t be leaving his employers at LSU to take over the Vols.
Amid a flurry of reports that Alleva was emerging as the leading candidate to take over the vacancy left by Mike Hamilton’s resignation in June, LSU put the speculation to rest on Tuesday night in a statement that ensured UT’s search would be continuing.
“This is not an opportunity that I pursued, and Tennessee is a wonderful place,” Alleva said in the statement. “But in the end, I felt that chancellor (Michael) Martin has a great vision for LSU. He and the board of supervisors ... showed tremendous support for me to stay at LSU.
“Baton Rouge is my home and I want to be part of the community for a long time to come. There is more work to be done, and my heart bleeds purple and gold. I look forward to working every day to make LSU a better place for the best student-athletes, coaches and fans in America.”
The chance to leave the Tigers certainly appeared to be an option, with Martin cutting short a vacation in New Mexico earlier in the day to address the matter — confirming that UT had contacted him about his athletic director according to a report in the Baton Rouge Advocate.
The interest expressed from the Vols wasn’t enough to get Alleva away from LSU, though it did produce a raise for him.
The LSU Board of Supervisors approved an extension of Alleva’s contract in April through June 2016. However, his minimum $550,000 annual salary remained the same.
And whether or not Alleva was definitively the leading candidate, his decision also forces UT to move on to another name on its list.
“It was brought to my attention that the University of Tennessee was interested in Joe becoming their athletic director, and often good people — both in academics and athletics — attract interest from other institutions,” Martin said. “We have been pleased with Joe’s performance, so in concert with the leadership of the board of supervisors, we determined it was in the best interests of the university to make him a sufficiently fair offer and opportunity to remain at LSU.
“We are happy that he has chosen to keep Baton Rouge his home.”
UT appeared to be willing to help Alleva change his address, but it will now have to look elsewhere as the search nears the two-month mark and the start of the football season draws closer.
Until one candidate was revealed for UT by a conference rival, its effort has largely been tight-lipped. That is expected to continue as the process resumes, with UT spokesman Jimmy Stanton steadfastly refusing to address candidates or a timetable for the search committee to complete a hire.
“The search remains in progress,” he said when reached by phone. “I have no other updates.”
Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward