Hoping for the best: Mike Hamilton's resignation not certain to bring NCAA favor

Moments after he quoted a passage from the Bible, thanked his many friends in the room and expressed his love for the University of Tennessee while announcing his resignation as the school's men's athletic director, Mike Hamilton answered the $1.335 million question.

Of all times, with UT set to stand before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis on Saturday, why walk away now?

Mike Hamilton announces his resignation as Athletics Director for the University of Tennessee

Hamilton provided various reasons, but most came back to the investigation that put Hamilton through the most "challenging" and "frustrating" 18 months of his professional career.

Now, he and his former bosses and colleagues hope that his departure will pave the way for a less frustrating and challenging future for the UT athletic department.

"I don't have any firm knowledge of this but it's my belief with people I talked to that going in to the Committee on Infractions now with a new head basketball coach, a new head football coach and the prospect of a new athletic director, it's not bad for the University of Tennessee," Hamilton said. "I can't say that it's good necessarily, but it's certainly not bad."

The decisions and penalties rendered by the NCAA Committee on Infractions, a group comprised of law professors, active attorneys, league executives and athletic administrators from across the country, have been notoriously tough to predict because it is encouraged, but not required, to base its rulings on established precedent.

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Hamilton's resignation, which comes with $1.335 million in buyout money, doesn't do anything to clarify the future, multiple NCAA legal experts told the News Sentinel. It merely adds another variable to an already complex equation.

"As an institution, you would certainly hope that the Committee on Infractions would take notice that you now have two new head coaches and are on the verge of hiring a brand new athletic director, so you do, in fact, have a clean and fresh start in that regard," said Mike Ermert, a Birmingham (Ala.) based attorney who represented the University of Alabama in a 1994 case against the NCAA.

"I don't believe it's going to insulate the institution from penalties that would otherwise have been imposed if Hamilton were still on the job."

Michael Buckner, a prominent Florida-based attorney who has represented coaches and universities in NCAA infractions cases, said Hamilton's resignation not only doesn't guarantee a lighter sentence from the COI, but also could work against the university.

"When you go to an infractions hearing, you're trying to show the committee that you're sorry the violation occurred, you're putting in place a series of measures to make sure it doesn't happen again and you have the people in place in terms of (administrators) and coaches to make sure it doesn't happen again," Buckner said.

"You want to be able to show that you have the ability in leadership. I can't say that Tennessee can show that right now."

At the NCAA Enforcement Experience in Indianapolis last month, Josephine Potuto, a Nebraska law professor who served on the COI from 2000 to 2008, said an institution's separation from a coach who committed violations is considered a "corrective action." Because Hamilton isn't specifically implicated in any of the Vols' 12 major violations in football and men's basketball, and because he resigned and was not fired, it's tough to classify his departure as a "corrective action," Ermert said.

Of the 12 violations, only one - failure to monitor telephone calls made by the men's basketball coaching staff - is alleged specifically against the athletic department Hamilton supervised. The other 11 have been pinned on former coaches.

"I think the Committee on Infractions is going to look at the manner in which the athletic department was managed under his tenure and whether or not they appropriately monitored the conduct of the coaches and the other athletic staff," Ermert said. "(They will) reach a decision as to whether or not anything that Hamilton did or didn't do should be addressed."

Hamilton, unprompted, pointed out that he, UT and its fans have already served one of the harshest punishments that comes with NCAA investigations.

Waiting.

Reactions to news of Mike Hamilton's resignation

"Though we got our letter of official inquiry in August or September of last year, the premise or the possibility of this investigation was much earlier than that," Hamilton said of UT's investigation, which was launched April 2009. "That's damaging to an institution."

At last week's SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., which were attended by NCAA president Mark Emmert and Vice President of Enforcement Julie Roe Lach, Hamilton said he spoke about the "problematic" length of these investigations.

NCAA spokesperson Stacey Osburn said that the NCAA couldn't comment on Hamilton's concerns because UT's investigation is still ongoing.

"There's collateral damage along the way because of that," he said. "Certainly the NCAA should take their time to make sure everything is investigated thoroughly, but I also think that there are folks that are hurt along the way because of the length of time."

Hamilton can certainly claim to be one of them.

Andrew Gribble may be reached at 865-342-6327. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Andrew_Gribble and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/gribble

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Comments » 29

richvol writes:

The last card is finally played...

UofTNVol writes:

The useful idiots are thrilled.

govols1234567 writes:

Honestly, with Hamilton gone who would the NCAA really be punishing at Tennessee? Everyone majorly involved isnt a part of the program anymore

govols1234567 writes:

Majorly involved with the infractions that is

rich182x writes:

Bring in Fulmer as AD.

shipperman#280095 writes:

in response to rich182x:

Bring in Fulmer as AD.

as i said on another post, ain't happening. He hired Dave Clawson, so his judge of coaching talent is not that great. Plus his record being around .250 against the top 20 in the last 5 years didn't help either. fat boy needs to keep his 6 million and his TV gig, cause that is his last job

cloudodust writes:

This was in the works for a while. Timing is everything to some folks and with the NCAA decision looming, it can appear Hammy's departure may be an admission of his part in the situations to some degree. Let us hope for the best regarding Tennessee athletics. Nonetheless, a heck of a Golden Parachute for a screwup...

CCLC writes:

NCAA punishes a school based on their past body of work. Just like the guy busted and sitting in his cell finding Jesus ......future good works does not nullify past bad ones.
The Mike Hamilton era at Tennessee finally came to an end. I for one will miss him.

First he fires Phillip Fulmer. Now, the Tennessee fan base was very well disgruntled with Fulmer, but there is something to be said about firing a long time, successful head coach. Getting rid of Fulmer was the right move, but I am sure it is not an easy decision, and I am sure you have to fire off a lot of your silver bullets to make that call. If you do fire someone who spent 40 years at your a school from player to assisstant to head coach, you better make a splash hire. Second, he hires Lame Kiffin. Kiffin managed to piss off everyone in the SEC, and ran afoul with the NCAA. The Kiffin saga didn’t end well for anyone except Serta sales had noticeable uptick!

And then there is Bruce Pearl. Pearl was a heck of a coach, but he also ran afoul of the NCAA in the mean time. Mike Hamilton did his coach no favors when he didn’t come out and fire him last fall, but rather terminate his contract but not fire him. Idiotic. Then, Hamilton threw Pearl under the bus before their first round game in the NCAA Tournament. What timing! Idiotic.

Any AD who has the men’s basketball and football programs in the middle of an NCAA inquiry should probably be creating a profile on Linkedin. While Coach D. Dooley fields an inexperienced team next season, there will be a new AD and new men’s basketball coach next season,and the third baseball coach in five years. Things do seem rocky on Rocky Top.

VOLliven2it writes:

It would have made the university look more in control and desiring to address issues if he had been fired say just after BP was fired. Too late for all that. So it seems this is just a comfort to those of us who appreciate what he accomplished with updating facilities etc. yet realize he had no gift at hiring and managing coaches. We will feel the wrath of the NCAA,fair or not. They just work that way. Some get off easy, others get axed. Maybe ours will not be too harsh. I think I would be more pleased if Hamilton went ahead and left. But someone up there thinks his presence at the proceedings will help. Lame duck presence usually does not. Life moves on, so will the Volunteer athletic programs. It may be slow and we may have to be patient but we will move on.

dyerbey#281598 writes:

I'm perplexed by the term "useless idiots", do you honestly think Hamilton should have been allowed to stay? The guy has been a total failure.

Huttdawg100 writes:

The NCAA COI is too unpredictable. Didn't we ask for a Summary Disposition, which essentially means that we plead guilty, so give us a lighter sentence? And the reason that could not happen was Bruce's unethical conduct charge. Although the COI says that each case brought before them is different, I think they will set precedent in our case and hand out punishments directly to the coaches, and go a little lighter on the University. This is the NCAA's opportunity to prevent coaches from getting one school in trouble and then moving on to the next without being punished (Like Calipari at UMass and Memphis). I think Pearl gets hit with a lengthy show cause penalty. I'm not sure what can happen to Kiffin and Orgeron, but I suspect the COI will try to tag them with something (maybe taking them off the recruiting trail for a period of time or a fine to be paid to the former school (just wondering)).

Ultimately, I think we'll look back at this and say that Hamilton was a lot better than both Ohio State's Gene Smith and USC's Mike Garrett. Through the entire process, Hamilton was willing and able to move the process along and that the COI got full cooperation from the Tennessee Administration. It was time for Hamilton to go, but I think he handle this phase of his job, fairly well.

VOL1972 writes:

Hamilton clearly saw the handwriting on the wall. Falling on his sword was the smartest thing he could do. Whatever the NCAA sanctions end up being, he was the only one left to blame and his settlement probably wouldn't have been as sweet had he waited for the judgement.

Now that everyone involved is gone and the message has been sent, harsh NCAA sanctions (if that's what is to follow) will appear to be over the top. What else can UT do? They have sent their coach and AD packing, not to mention the 8 game in season suspension of Pearl. A 2 or 3 3 year probation would seem to be the most appropriate penalty.

In all of this the only really stupid/harmful thing Hamiltion did was to tell everyone Pearl was pretty much history after the NCAA tourney and he is paying the price for that.

CoverOrange writes:

The UTAD's defense all along has been that illegal actions were of individual rogue coaches, without the knowledge of the UTAD. Hamilton quitting makes the UTAD look complicit.

Hounddawg writes:

David Howell is the right man for the job. Email Jimmy Cheeks today.

VolMoment writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

as i said on another post, ain't happening. He hired Dave Clawson, so his judge of coaching talent is not that great. Plus his record being around .250 against the top 20 in the last 5 years didn't help either. fat boy needs to keep his 6 million and his TV gig, cause that is his last job

If a person didn't let his emotions get involved, then he would say this is best post of all. Phil needed to go and his record against top 20 was going to get worst. If you knew him you would realize he thought he was bigger than UT and would never get fired. So he got fat and let other coaches out work him.
We need an energectic person in the AD job.

bamaman1 writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

UT will receive a slap on the wrist after this. Fulmer will be brought in as AD. He has already worked his magic with the NCAA. Maybe Roy Kramer can be brought in as president if he is still kicking. They were a heck of a team back in the day.

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

in response to rich182x:

Bring in Fulmer as AD.

Phil Fulmer would divide the fan base . He would finish off what he started , a down fall ............

bamaman1 writes:

in response to dwolfcreek#397971:

Phil Fulmer would divide the fan base . He would finish off what he started , a down fall ............

Hamiltons unexpected resignation just before the meeting smells like some sort of a deal. I know that Phil had strong ties to the ncaa during his coaching years. We witnessed that relationship up close and personal.

DutchOrangeVolsOrange writes:

in response to govols1234567:

Honestly, with Hamilton gone who would the NCAA really be punishing at Tennessee? Everyone majorly involved isnt a part of the program anymore

Exactly! I heard one of the Guys for Sports Illustrated say yesterday that since most of the allegations are of a secondary thing, He did not feel that the UT football program or Lane Kiffen would get hit any harder. Not as certain about what might go down with Basketball though. I know that the numbers in the football roster has been down for the last 2 years. If scholarship sanctions were issued, it was really hurt UT's football program. I think most of you all understand that Derek Dooley is 2 good solid recruiting years away from getting this program back to a very competive level again in the SEC.

CCLC writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ah..... but Kiffen did help mattress sales in a somewhat slow economy.
just sayin'

us43137415#376444 writes:

in response to govols1234567:

Honestly, with Hamilton gone who would the NCAA really be punishing at Tennessee? Everyone majorly involved isnt a part of the program anymore

Equate it with this situation:

You have a bill with Sears, that has $500 owed on it, and they have routinely sent you a statement every month like they do everybody.

Unfortunately, today you're killed in an auto accident.

Does the bill go away?

No. Your survivors have to advertise in the paper the fact that debtors have 60 days or 90 days to file claims against your estate.

If Sears files a claim against your estate within the time limit, your estate has to pay the bill.

In other words, just because you're dead, does not excuse the bill you owe Sears.

In further other words, just because the coaches and the athletic director are not around, doesn't excuse the infractions they committed.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to bamaman1:

Hamiltons unexpected resignation just before the meeting smells like some sort of a deal. I know that Phil had strong ties to the ncaa during his coaching years. We witnessed that relationship up close and personal.

That pot has been stirred into multiple froths on here. Whether Phil did a deal to cover his whatever indiscretions or not, several people connected to Bama did worse deeds. Let it go.

skyhawk836 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

That pot has been stirred into multiple froths on here. Whether Phil did a deal to cover his whatever indiscretions or not, several people connected to Bama did worse deeds. Let it go.

Yep. I don't think the bama-ites ever realized how they came off with their moaning about Fulmer.
Basically, it was: "Waaa, we cheated and he told on us".

govols1234567 writes:

in response to us43137415#376444:

Equate it with this situation:

You have a bill with Sears, that has $500 owed on it, and they have routinely sent you a statement every month like they do everybody.

Unfortunately, today you're killed in an auto accident.

Does the bill go away?

No. Your survivors have to advertise in the paper the fact that debtors have 60 days or 90 days to file claims against your estate.

If Sears files a claim against your estate within the time limit, your estate has to pay the bill.

In other words, just because you're dead, does not excuse the bill you owe Sears.

In further other words, just because the coaches and the athletic director are not around, doesn't excuse the infractions they committed.

Exactly. So just punish the coaches and those responsible

MemphisVOLALum writes:

Everyone just simmer down. Most posts on this site have been calling for this resignation for a while. I happened to be in NJ at my coporate office yesterday morning and had not heard the news that Mike Hamilton was set to resign. My wife called to give me the news so I could go ahead and turn in my resgination as UT will be calling me about the AD position soon. I want all you posters to know that I will take your comments to heart in my new job! See you on The Hill --- GO VOLS !!!

murrayvol writes:

in response to CCLC:

NCAA punishes a school based on their past body of work. Just like the guy busted and sitting in his cell finding Jesus ......future good works does not nullify past bad ones.
The Mike Hamilton era at Tennessee finally came to an end. I for one will miss him.

First he fires Phillip Fulmer. Now, the Tennessee fan base was very well disgruntled with Fulmer, but there is something to be said about firing a long time, successful head coach. Getting rid of Fulmer was the right move, but I am sure it is not an easy decision, and I am sure you have to fire off a lot of your silver bullets to make that call. If you do fire someone who spent 40 years at your a school from player to assisstant to head coach, you better make a splash hire. Second, he hires Lame Kiffin. Kiffin managed to piss off everyone in the SEC, and ran afoul with the NCAA. The Kiffin saga didn’t end well for anyone except Serta sales had noticeable uptick!

And then there is Bruce Pearl. Pearl was a heck of a coach, but he also ran afoul of the NCAA in the mean time. Mike Hamilton did his coach no favors when he didn’t come out and fire him last fall, but rather terminate his contract but not fire him. Idiotic. Then, Hamilton threw Pearl under the bus before their first round game in the NCAA Tournament. What timing! Idiotic.

Any AD who has the men’s basketball and football programs in the middle of an NCAA inquiry should probably be creating a profile on Linkedin. While Coach D. Dooley fields an inexperienced team next season, there will be a new AD and new men’s basketball coach next season,and the third baseball coach in five years. Things do seem rocky on Rocky Top.

That's why they call it rocky top.

ddt#1340890 writes:

in response to VOL1972:

Hamilton clearly saw the handwriting on the wall. Falling on his sword was the smartest thing he could do. Whatever the NCAA sanctions end up being, he was the only one left to blame and his settlement probably wouldn't have been as sweet had he waited for the judgement.

Now that everyone involved is gone and the message has been sent, harsh NCAA sanctions (if that's what is to follow) will appear to be over the top. What else can UT do? They have sent their coach and AD packing, not to mention the 8 game in season suspension of Pearl. A 2 or 3 3 year probation would seem to be the most appropriate penalty.

In all of this the only really stupid/harmful thing Hamiltion did was to tell everyone Pearl was pretty much history after the NCAA tourney and he is paying the price for that.

Everyone involved is NOT gone. Jimmy "Sweet" Cheeks is still there. He is the puppet master pulling the strings on all coaches hire. Fire the jerk; Get rid of him now. Alabama wanted the best so they pay $4 million for Satan; we hire also rans and pray for the best. FIRE CHEEKS. HE ALONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BAD HIRES.

kman29 writes:

in response to shipperman#280095:

as i said on another post, ain't happening. He hired Dave Clawson, so his judge of coaching talent is not that great. Plus his record being around .250 against the top 20 in the last 5 years didn't help either. fat boy needs to keep his 6 million and his TV gig, cause that is his last job

And yet Clawson has as many winning seasons in his 2 years at Bowling Green as Dooley does in his entire coaching career

DooleyWagon22 writes:

Does anyone else think Mike Hamilton looks like a keola bear?

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