Mike Hamilton's exit was inevitable, but surprising pundits divine in hindsight

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton announces his resignation alongside chancellor Jimmy Cheek at the Stokely Family Media Center inside Neyland Stadium on June 7, 2011.

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton announces his resignation alongside chancellor Jimmy Cheek at the Stokely Family Media Center inside Neyland Stadium on June 7, 2011.

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

Sports writers, those learned pundits of relish and mustard from the press box, are still digesting the news that Mike Hamilton will leave the University of Tennessee's athletic director office on June 30 for good.

Their takes on Hamilton's exit with a pocketful of change and more run the gamut of conflicting viewpoints.

Fired basketball coach Bruce Pearl did Mike Hamilton in (not the firing, well, maybe the firing). Or was it the not firing until March?

The best (or is it the worst) thing he did was fire Phil Fulmer.

Had USC football coach Lane Kiffin worked out at Tennessee, he would have been a hero despite the obivously lack of rules compliance by the Lane crew. How'd that work out?

Hamilton's leaving is a last ditch gambit to convince the NCAA to allow the University of Tennessee to have a need for a mens' athletic department. Or is it the inevitable confluence of the planets.

It's so confusing when we set about being enlightened on the sports web.

See for yourself.

John Clay at the Lexington Herald Leader:

Come on, Tennessee, you sure know how to mess up a good thing.

As far as Kentucky fans were concerned, Mike Hamilton could be Tennessee's athletics director for life.

After all, what better way for the Big Blue Nation to deal with the pain of that long losing streak to the football Vols than watch the entire Rocky Top athletics program hit rock bottom.

David Climer of The Tennessean:

Even when SEC Commissioner Mike Slive came out with his eight-game suspension of Pearl, Hamilton never wavered. He supported Pearl until the 11th hour. Actually, it was more like the 11th hour, 59th minute.

Ultimately, that’s what cost Hamilton his job.

Gary Parish, CBSSports.com:

He said the following words: "I think today was inevitable."

Sure, Hamilton said lots more. He talked about his personal life and professional life, talked about his past and future and even quoted scripture. All in all, it was an OK performance. But the words that stood out most were the five from above because they suggested Hamilton recognized what he was up against even if he almost certainly recognized it later than most. You see, once Tennessee decided to split with Bruce Pearl because of Pearl's acknowledged NCAA violations it became obvious that Hamilton, the man who hired Pearl, wouldn't last.

Pat Forde of ESPN:

Well, it's about time.

Mike Hamilton resigned Tuesday as the men's athletic director at Tennessee. He stepped down a solid three months after he should have, when the NCAA notice of allegations was made public and his department was charged with violations in both men's basketball and football. And he stepped down nearly nine months after he reasonably could have, when basketball coach Bruce Pearl cried and said he lied and it was obvious that the Volunteers were in serious trouble.

Wes Rucker, GVX247.com:

But here’s my humble counterpoint: This isn’t a time for unbridled joy. It shouldn’t be, anyway.

UT will lose a good man on June 30. Hamilton is not a professionally perfect man, but he’s one of the better human beings I’ve come across while covering college sports’ most cutthroat conference.

Doug Gillett, SBNation.com:

Hamilton fiddled while Phil Fulmer allowed UT's football recruiting to turn into an '80s sitcom farce, and when the time came to replace him, Hamilton somehow managed to find the one guy in America who saw Tennessee's head coaching position merely as a stepping stone to someplace better.

Mark Bradley, AJC.com:

Derek Dooley’s job, which was never going to be easy, gets even tougher. He was a surprising hire in the first place, coming from Louisiana Tech after three seasons (two of them losing) to the massive stadium on the banks of the Tennessee River, and now the man who chose him is out. The son of Vince needs to win big soon, and with the talent at hand and post-Kiffin probation apt to descend, he might not be able.

Dennis Dodds, CBSSports.com:

The man who tried to renovate Tennessee athletics left a lot of blank drywall, but not for lack of trying. Pearl lied. Kiffin bailed. The man who hired them both, failed to sustain the momentum. The athletic department he leaves behind is still waiting to be picked over by the NCAA.

Ron Higgins, The Commerical Appeal:

He should have fired himself — and Pearl — back in September when Pearl admitted he lied to NCAA investigators. Before that, Kiffin ignored the NCAA rulebook from day one as coach after replacing the fired Phillip Fulmer, and Hamilton never did anything to reel him in, except allow Kiffin to hire the highest paid staff ($3.325 million annually) in school history.

The only thing the last few years that Hamilton did correctly was fire Fulmer. The stale program clearly needed a change, but Hamilton’s hiring of Kiffin ranks neck-and-neck with Ole Miss hiring Ed Orgeron as its football coach in 2005 as the two worst hires in SEC history.

We do know none of these writers will be the next athletic director of the University of Tennessee or even a successful palm reader on Alcoa Highway. Write that down. It's, as they say, inevitable.

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Comments » 15

budd#207344 writes:

Of all the sportswriters in America, KNS compiles comments from the bottom feeders of the profession. If you had added Weedmir from Chatt and JA you would have hit them all

CCLC writes:

Good bye Hammy. Thanks for the millions of dollars you brought to UT. Thanks for all the improvements to the university which brought UT up to speed with their rivals in the SEC. Another role at another university and Hammy will do a good job. He is after all a peerless bean counter. As AD though....."If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times here: I have no idea how Hamilton kept his job even this long. He's the one who pushed Phil Fulmer out the door in order to hire the woefully under-qualified Lane Kiffin. Under Hamilton's not-so-watchful eye, Kiffin committed a number of high profile albeit secondary NCAA violations and publicly picked fights with others in the conference. Plus, Bruce Pearl and his staff committed some major violations of the "should have been caught far earlier with proper controls" variety. Hamilton also led the hamfisted search for Kiffin's replacement, a process that didn't set any records for being smooth or leak-proof." And then there is the baseball program that will enjoy its 3rd coach in 5 years. Hire and fire doesnt provide job security for an AD. But I would take that 1.33 million to pack up and clean out my office too.

TommyJack writes:

in response to budd#207344:

Of all the sportswriters in America, KNS compiles comments from the bottom feeders of the profession. If you had added Weedmir from Chatt and JA you would have hit them all

Seemed like a decent piece to me.

jone8191#247590 writes:

Most of these guys are dead on. None more than Doug Gillett. Give them credit for getting it right. That's a lot more than UT athletics have done lately!!!!!!!

CrankE writes:

Hamilton may be a nice guy in a tank of sharks. And therin lies the problem. A human swimming in the water has no hope of earning respect from the sharks.

I have called him Lord Hamilton, The Indecisive for a while now and I am convinced that it is precisely his own indecisiveness and lack of leadership that's done him in. There are a number of examples which are all embarrasing and expensive. It was well past time for Lord Hamilton, The Indecisive to walk it out.

stevefrommemphis writes:

Tennessee should go hire Mitch Barnhart away from Kentucky. He has been up there long enough to know "how they do things" in Lexington. I'd anxiously read what John Clay at the Lexington Herald Leader and Mark Wiedmer (the biggest Kentucky fan in the state of Tennessee) of the Chattanooga Times Free Press would have to say about that.

arkyvol writes:

one of the columnists refers to dooley as a "surprising hire". translated: somewhat like notre dame or ohio state hiring the assistant defensive coordinator from western kentucky as their head coach. name me one hiring under hamilton that wouldn't qualify as surprising. the reason is obvious. hamilton has had to hire off the bargain rack because serious coaches don't take him seriously. tennessee is a serious institution when it comes to athletics. it needs a serious a.d.

p.s.: one of the things i'm really grateful for is that hammy won't be around when it comes time to replace pat summitt.

alfrizzle097 writes:

It amuses me that anyone criticizes allowing the 'highest paid assistant staff in school history' when the normal criticism of Hamilton is not being willing to pay for a big name coach.

I wasn't a bandwagon fan for the new staff in large part because I was a Fulmer supporter, but the vast majorjity of fans were very excited to have Kiffen Sr, Orgeron, and Chaney.

Most of the people complaining about the rule breaking were brushing it off their shoulders like dander at the time. I am amused by how vehemently you villify Hamilton for being at the helm when something you accepted was going on.

Happy sailing, Mike. Spend that million on a good cause like you have in the past.
MAY YOU FOREVER BE KNOWN AS THE HAMBURGLAR!

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to arkyvol:

one of the columnists refers to dooley as a "surprising hire". translated: somewhat like notre dame or ohio state hiring the assistant defensive coordinator from western kentucky as their head coach. name me one hiring under hamilton that wouldn't qualify as surprising. the reason is obvious. hamilton has had to hire off the bargain rack because serious coaches don't take him seriously. tennessee is a serious institution when it comes to athletics. it needs a serious a.d.

p.s.: one of the things i'm really grateful for is that hammy won't be around when it comes time to replace pat summitt.

Women's ad would make that call.

Classof72 writes:

The head of the UTAD,
Is getting a buyout you see,
Performance was weak,
But Hamilton's Cheek,
Has paid him a million point three.

Ayres_Hall writes:

Ignorance doesn't stop many, does it?

Go_Big_O writes:

in response to arkyvol:

one of the columnists refers to dooley as a "surprising hire". translated: somewhat like notre dame or ohio state hiring the assistant defensive coordinator from western kentucky as their head coach. name me one hiring under hamilton that wouldn't qualify as surprising. the reason is obvious. hamilton has had to hire off the bargain rack because serious coaches don't take him seriously. tennessee is a serious institution when it comes to athletics. it needs a serious a.d.

p.s.: one of the things i'm really grateful for is that hammy won't be around when it comes time to replace pat summitt.

I agree with you in theory - However, I'm really happy with the Dooley hire and hope to see him win so he can stay around for a really long time.

arkyvol writes:

in response to Go_Big_O:

I agree with you in theory - However, I'm really happy with the Dooley hire and hope to see him win so he can stay around for a really long time.

hope you're right. i really, really do, but i don't think he'd be where he's at if his last name was smith, jones, or brown.

Colliervol writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

Tennessee should go hire Mitch Barnhart away from Kentucky. He has been up there long enough to know "how they do things" in Lexington. I'd anxiously read what John Clay at the Lexington Herald Leader and Mark Wiedmer (the biggest Kentucky fan in the state of Tennessee) of the Chattanooga Times Free Press would have to say about that.

Wrong Steve. I want no part of any fool stupid enough (or shady enough) to hire John Calipari. How the are "doing things" in Lexington (at least in basketball) is a pit best avoided.

Colliervol writes:

"We do know none of these writers will be the next athletic director of the University of Tennessee or even a successful palm reader on Alcoa Highway." That line is the only one of note in the article. Wes Rucker is the only one of them with a clue about what really happened. At the end of the day, it was best for Hamilton and the University. But Hamilton is nothing more than a scapegoat for the ineptitude of the fatcats on the athletic board. Of that I am absolutely certain.

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