Tennessee's Power T logo might just as well stand for "Transition" as the school begins its search for a new athletic director on the heels of Mike Hamilton's resignation on Tuesday.
UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek, who will oversee the hiring process, said he plans to have an interim athletic director in place by the end of this week and a permanent hire made in the next six to eight weeks.
Hamilton became the seventh man to serve as the Vols' athletic director when he was hired on July 1, 2003, to act as CEO for an athletic department with a $100 million-plus budget.
Cheek's timeline indicates the interim AD will be hired from within the current school administration. Cheek said the interim AD will advance the search process while attending the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) convention in Orlando, Fla., next week.
A short list of candidates for the interim AD position includes senior associate athletic director/external operations Chris Fuller, senior associate athletic director administration/football David Blackburn and women's athletic director Joan Cronan.
There has been speculation that former UT football coach Phillip Fulmer could be a potential candidate, but Fulmer recently said he would only be interested "under the right circumstances" and did not return phone calls to the News Sentinel on Tuesday.
One of UT's major boosters, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said he has learned through discussions with the UT administration that the school does not want an AD with previous ties to the school.
Both UT President Joe DiPietro and Cheek are relative newcomers to Knoxville and have ties to the University of Florida.
Prior to arriving at UT in 2006 as vice president for agriculture (preceding his selection as president in October), DiPietro had been the dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Florida since 1997. Cheek, hired as chancellor on Feb 1, 2009, arrived in Knoxville after serving as a member of Florida's faculty and administration for 34 years.
While in Gainesville, Cheek served on a sub-cabinet that advised the Florida president on all matters, including athletics.
Cheek said he will put together a search committee, made up of "a group of people who represent various constituencies" to interview and research candidates.
"It (athletic director hire) could be an athletic director or an associate or somebody who has been in athletics that is now doing something else,'' Cheek said, "but they need to have some firing-line experience in an athletic program.''
Cheek believes UT's opening to be an attractive one, despite the school's pending appearance before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. UT faces allegations of 12 major violations.
Some potential candidates within the SEC for Tennessee's vacancy, though it should be noted the search will extend nationwide:
Mitch Barnhart, athletic director, Kentucky: Hired by Kentucky in 2002 after serving as Oregon State's athletic director 1998-2002, the 51-year-old Barnhart served as senior associate athletic director at UT 1986-1998, during the successful tenure of former Tennessee AD Doug Dickey.
Dave Hart Jr., executive director of athletics, Alabama: Hired at Alabama in 2008 to assist Crimson Tide AD Mal Moore in day-to-day operations, Hart served as athletic director at Florida State for 12 years before leaving in October 2007 at the age of 58. Prior to that stint, Hart was East Carolina's athletic director for eight years.
Herb Vincent, associate vice chancellor for university relations/senior associate athletics director, LSU: Vincent, 50, is in a dual capacity managing community relations and serving as primary public relations officer for the school in addition to his role in athletics where he supervises marketing and promotions and is the department administrator for baseball.
Frank Crumley, executive associate athletic director, Georgia: Crumley, 48, served as interim athletic director at Georgia last year while the school looked to replace former Bulldogs AD Damon Evans. Crumley was Evans' top assistant as executive athletic director for finance.
David Blackburn, senior associate athletic director administration/football, Tennessee: The 45-year-old Blackburn has served the Vols in numerous capacities over the past 20 years since being hired full-time in 1991. Blackburn spent five years as assistant athletics director for football under former coach Fulmer, and has been director of recruiting compliance for all men's teams, assistant recruiting coordinator for football and assistant athletics director for development.
Chris Fuller, senior associate athletic director/external operations, Tennessee: Has served on numerous coaching search committees at UT, most recently spearheading the efforts that led to Cuonzo Martin's hire as men's basketball coach. Responsible for cultivating corporate partner relationships, developing and implementing season ticket and group sales and developing marketing and promotional plans for men's and women's athletics. Has served as a consultant for the Mid-American Conference, and was vice president of collegiate marketing for the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mike Hill, senior associate athletics director, external affairs, Florida: The 42-year-old Hill oversees marketing/promotional efforts for all 21 sports at Florida, including direct supervision of football and men's basketball. Negotiates multi-media rights agreements, serves as primary liaison with a variety of television rights holders, responsible for the development and implementation of corporate sponsorship programs and supervises the ticket office.