Ron Higgins: Mike Hamilton's mistakes should cost UT athletic director his job

Mike Hamilton resigned as UT athletic director on June 7, 2011.

Photo by Saul Young

Mike Hamilton resigned as UT athletic director on June 7, 2011.

If you’re sitting in University of Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton’s office right now – it’s the one with armed guards at the door with a desk surrounded by bulletproof glass – you’re trying hard not to multi-task.

It’s difficult making phone calls to find your next men’s basketball coach while you’re busy updating your resume.

There hasn’t been an athletic director in recent Southeastern Conference history whose first two major hires were so ignorant of recruiting rules that they practically screamed, “NCAA investigators, c’mon down!”

Hamilton, who became athletic director in 2003, has to wonder how his Camelot became cheat-a-lot in the last two years, how anything positive accomplished was wiped out by a pair of hires gone wrong.

In March 2005, Hamilton hired Bruce Pearl, affable, fast-talking Wisconsin-Milwaukee head coach. All is beautiful when Pearl finally got the Vols to the Sweet 16 in ’06-’07, and then to the Elite Eight last March.

But a few months later, Pearl lied to NCAA investigators about two blatant recruiting violations.

In November 2008, Hamilton fired long-time football coach Phillip Fulmer, and correctly based it on what most coaching firings are decided – struggling on the field equals loss of faith in program by big-money boosters and season-ticket holders equaling less fans in the stands.

But Hamilton compounded the controversy of firing Fulmer by hiring Lane Kiffin, who had never accomplished anything of consequence as a head coach on any level of football. Hamilton then rubberstamped Kiffin’s salary spending spree on a coaching staff that cost $5.625 million annually.

Return on investment? A 7-6 record and Kiffin’s escape out the side door to become USC’s head coach, one step ahead of the NCAA gumshoes compiling a list of possible violations.

Then comes the stuff with Pearl, who is basically Kiffin with a personality. And only because of that, because he’s a likable guy, because he actually acknowledges those around him as human beings with valid feelings and thoughts – unlike Kiffin – was Pearl allowed to coach this season before being fired.

That was a huge mistake by Hamilton, one which should cost him his job.

Pearl’s press conference in September, in which he tearfully admitted lying to the NCAA, should have been to announce his resignation.

Four days later after Pearl’s crocodile tears, he committed another NCAA recruiting violation on a bump rule. That was Hamilton’s second chance to fire Pearl.

Instead, the Vols’ program was left twisting in the wind all season. Players had to answer questions about Pearl’s future from the start of the year until last Friday’s season-ending 30-point loss to Michigan in the Vols’ one-and-done NCAA tournament appearance.

Just this month, Pearl apparently committed another NCAA violation of the player pass list at the last home game against Kentucky.

ESPN.com cited sources saying Hamilton’s referral to “a number of more recent non-NCAA-related incidents” in his Monday statement announcing Bruce’s firing targeted a violation of the Vols’ substance abuse policy by senior forward Brian Williams. He missed the last two regular-season games at South Carolina and at home against Kentucky due to what team officials said was a bad back.

For all the wailing about Pearl being axed, the bottom line is that a 51-year-old man who has been a head coach or an assistant for 30 years, someone who obviously knows the ins and outs of every NCAA rule, lied to the NCAA. And then kept right on breaking rules.

Granted, being an athletic director is a lot harder than it looks. You’re constantly gladhandling boosters for more donations while negotiating almost daily with your head coaches from every sport wanting to spend a little more money for this and that.

And then there’s the Catch-22 of having a successful head football and basketball coaches, who are well-versed in Economics 101. Winning in those sports, especially football, makes the money that funds the entire athletic program.

When coaches like those have the power of being the cash cow of what essentially is a multi-million dollar business, they tend to think they are the CEO, not the athletic director.

They become bulletproof, they feel like they don’t have to answer to anybody, their athletic director and maybe even the school president.

When you think about it, if Mike Hamilton gets fired before or after the Vols’ eventual hearing before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions on June 10-11, it might be the best thing that ever happened to him.

It would extend his life expectancy and he won’t have to ever again feel like he has to take a shower after having a serious conversation with a head football or basketball coach.

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

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 115

miketn6 writes:

At some point sooner than later, keeping Hamilton around starts to impact Jimmy Cheek in a bad way.

jimr07 writes:

Ron, I am sure you have the Univsersity of Tennessee's fortunes in mind. LOL.

MusicCityVol writes:

Pearl did bring us some great moments and I think Dooley was the right hire. Hamilton's biggest sin, in my mind, was cutting Pearl's legs out 48 hours before the Michigan game. I'll never understand why he didn't wait until after the game.

The Dance with Pearl
http://checkerboardchatter.blogspot.c...

OTPVol writes:

BUT, he DID hire Coach Dooley.

SIMSVOL writes:

A lot of ignorance on the board today. Not unusual come to think of it. Ron Higgins story makes it sound like Hamilton had junior recruits over to his home and lied about it to the NCAA...that Hamilton rushed off to USC.

Hamilton has done a very good job of raising the bar at UT - he has been a major push behind the unprecedented facilities at UT. He's an incredible fundraiser for the University and a tireless worker always promoting UT. When are people going to wake up and realize these coaches are accountable for their own actions. Hamilton has done a fine job at UT as AD. We need Hamilton at UT. The people who are calling for Hamilton's head are the same people who think the oil companies are responsible for price hikes at the gas pump, that the rich should pay more than their share of taxes to support everyone with their hand out. Wake up folks. Hamilton has done his job and done it well. I for one don't think Pearl should have been fired, but I'm sure Hamilton will do a fine job of bringing in the very best coach for the job. Go Vols!

NTNSTY writes:

Why is someone from the "Comical Appeal" writing about TN? Huggins should opine about Arkansas or Alabama.

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

in response to OTPVol:

BUT, he DID hire Coach Dooley.

One good decision out of four? That's not very good odds and in my line of work, I'd be unemployed for sure. The quicker this guy is gone, the better.

GBO

agentorange writes:

in response to SIMSVOL:

A lot of ignorance on the board today. Not unusual come to think of it. Ron Higgins story makes it sound like Hamilton had junior recruits over to his home and lied about it to the NCAA...that Hamilton rushed off to USC.

Hamilton has done a very good job of raising the bar at UT - he has been a major push behind the unprecedented facilities at UT. He's an incredible fundraiser for the University and a tireless worker always promoting UT. When are people going to wake up and realize these coaches are accountable for their own actions. Hamilton has done a fine job at UT as AD. We need Hamilton at UT. The people who are calling for Hamilton's head are the same people who think the oil companies are responsible for price hikes at the gas pump, that the rich should pay more than their share of taxes to support everyone with their hand out. Wake up folks. Hamilton has done his job and done it well. I for one don't think Pearl should have been fired, but I'm sure Hamilton will do a fine job of bringing in the very best coach for the job. Go Vols!

You are a fool. We have won NO CHAMPIONSHIPS while Hamilton was in charge and the three main mens sports have declined into laughing stocks. Any suit can raise money at UT. Boosters give to the school...not Mike F'ing Hamilton.

SIMSVOL writes:

in response to agentorange:

You are a fool. We have won NO CHAMPIONSHIPS while Hamilton was in charge and the three main mens sports have declined into laughing stocks. Any suit can raise money at UT. Boosters give to the school...not Mike F'ing Hamilton.

Agentorange - your ignorance must bring you loads of bliss. You're exactly the uninformed crackpot I was referring to in my post.

winVol writes:

in response to OTPVol:

BUT, he DID hire Coach Dooley.

yes a 6 and 6 coach thats all CDD will be, i am so sorry to say FIRE HAMILTON ,,, FIRE HAMILTON

volfansareeverywhere writes:

lets remember ron higgens is a memphis writer. they are very jealous of anything to do with UT. they do not understand why memphis is not an sec team. firing bruce pearl was dumb. he didn't do anything any other coach hasn't done.

VolsToTheWall writes:

hilarious when people act like Pearl was a bad hire. Only slightly less funny when people pretend like they hated having Kiffin for the albeit short time he was here.

Kiffin did cause some trouble for the University, but ultimately he was what UT needed to spring us out of the dark ages of the last 4 years of Fulmer. It was Hamiltons promotion of Blackburn that saved UT from the bad Kiffin did.

If Dooley would've taken over after Fulmer it'd be a different story. Think about how complacent the program was when Fulmer got the axe. No one cared. Dooleys job would've been that much harder. Kiffin breathed life in the program (bout destroyed it, but he didnt). SO, you can be an ignorant fan and blame Hamilton or you can just accept that sometimes things don't go as planned, a dream job opens, someone tells a lie, etc.

OwensboroVol writes:

Mike Hamilton has to be terminated. Its that simple. It can happen now or sometime this fall but its going to happen. First, the recruiting this year was below par for UT in football. Say what you want, but Dooley hasn't proven anything yet, except he can't recruit as good as Fulmer. The Basketball Program is a mess and would have been much better if Hamilton had stuck with Pearl. At least there would have been a good product to watch on the floor.

jbocap writes:

Yes, we need a more intellectual, PR & sports minded A.D. "It's Time".

espender#273698 writes:

Hate to admit it, but Higgins and I agree on something. Yep, just saw a pig flying by and got a call from the Devil saying it sure was cold in Hell today.

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say Higgins and Climer are just homers writing for their teams.
Bones never lie.

tnsportsman writes:

I like Mike Hamilton as a person. He is a good man, father to adopted kids and is devoted to world charity missions.

However, all of the above does not make him the best Athletic Director for our Tennessee Volunteers. IMO, Mike Hamilton is in over his head as an AD. He has no playing experience in sports, no coaching experience, certainly lacks ‘Big Time’ in PR and Marketing. His timing on everything is just off and the last 3 years with all the mistakes, flub ups, bad PR and bad interviews should and would get most fired!

MH is a great fund raiser for UT, but many can do that job given the great facilities, storied UT history, top 10 NCAA winning record in football and as a great school like The University of Tennessee.

We need a True Volunteer and VFL like David Blackburn, Assistant AD! He has all the above experiences and knows the rules better than anyone at UTAD. He is a VFL and knows what the true Tennessee Traditions are!

GO VOLS, VFL!

CrankE writes:

As John McClane says in Die Hard, "Welcome to the party, pal!" A number of us have been saying this for more than a year.

So long as Lord Hamilton, The Indecisive remains, the quality of the new coach may be irrelevant. Good hire, bad hire, doesn't matter. In a few years, they will be mediocre because Hamilton will gladly tolerate mediocrity so long as the money is coming in.

Hamilton represents a Neville Chamberlain type of figure for UT. An appeaser. Peace in our time, all that. He does not seem to recognize that we're in a real fight and that there really are wolves out there who would love to see UT diminished. His lack of spine earns him disdain within UT and disrespect without. He is impotent outside of UT and incompetent inside of UT. This de-energizes the UT faithful and further encourages the wolves.

We need a Churchill type of figure at AD who will go on the offensive for UT and expect his coaches to do likewise.

The misery and muddling will remain with UT precisely as long as Hamilton does.

digthevols writes:

Three other specific comments about reasons to terminate Hamilton. #1 When he gave Bruce and his staff one week to recruit before instituting the "no-recruiting on the road for a year," last fall, that's a horrendous lack of judgment for a leader, such as an AD. It opens up the potential for another violation while under severe scrutiny (duh), and probably the NCAA doesn't look favorable upon Hamilton's decision to grant them one week of on the road recruiting.An egregious error! #2 If the Brian William's failed-drug test is true, how does Hamilton not know about the results and not aware of the penalties??? Do the results come in an envelope to Pearl only, and a major university and AD do not see those results unless a coach shares??? Are you serious? #3 The public relations fiasco last week with the Hamilton-Hyams interview: first, Hamilton should have postponed the interview. However, there's a solid chance that the interview (though planned a week earlier) was actually an intentional plan to bring the team down and eliminate a chance for advancing. Can you imagine the position, if by some chance and miracle, UT had defeated Michigan and Duke and advanced to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8. Clearly, the UT brass had to make sure that didn't happen!

In conclusion, they can't fire Hamilton now. They'll never get a coach with an interim AD or new AD, and they're going to have tough enough time getting one with an AD in limbo.

orangeblood8456 writes:

i guess you can blame the father for sins of the son!

sconaway#582160 writes:

It's a good thing no players ever took a golf-cart ride. Bruce would be in prison now.

tnsportsman writes:

in response to orangeblood8456:

i guess you can blame the father for sins of the son!

Sure, you can blame the father (MH) that does not know or take the time to know what the son (Pearl/Kiffin) are doing and does not monitor the 'son'

GO VOLS, VFL!

VolsDoc81TX writes:

I have to disagree with this article and several posters on here as well as on VolNation too.

Mike Hamilton's biggest fault to this point has been to TRUST the coaches to be honest and run the program with ethical intent.

Coach Fulmer was a great coach, became complacent and got fired for it. To listen to any of the rumors about him...he may have been the greatest at circumventing the ncaa rules and not getting caught...no proof of that, just rumors. I liked CPF, but could not stand the mediocre expectations that ended his career. Mike Hamilton fired him because he was told to. He was made to look like an idiot after he had just been told to give CPF a raise and extension with big buyout.

Hired CBP, looked looked like a genius until CBP broke rules, CBP acted remorseful (oscar level) but continued to lie and cheat. Hamilton is told to support him, then more lies and cheating by CBP and had to fire him. CBP's total fault each and every step of the way.

Kiffin...cannot make any statements about this Buffoon without likely being terminated as a poster here. He was never a representative of my UT. Except that Hamilton again gave trust to an untrustworthy person.

Coach Dooley may be his best hire ...from all accounts, CDD has integrity, follows the rules and is trustworthy...true Volunteer spirit!

AD Mike Hamilton needs to adopt the Bellevue code, "Trust No One" and he has the potential to be a good AD. Should he keep his job? Should he be fired? Not my decision.

Lot of rambling, I know, but the AD is a middle man. He is catching all the flack for being the face associated with some strange decisions...do not kill the messenger...look to the ones pulling his strings and taking none of the blame...

Go Vols!

BillyVol writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say Higgins and Climer are just homers writing for their teams.
Bones never lie.

Yes, and folks hear only what they want to hear.

Realist writes:

in response to SIMSVOL:

A lot of ignorance on the board today. Not unusual come to think of it. Ron Higgins story makes it sound like Hamilton had junior recruits over to his home and lied about it to the NCAA...that Hamilton rushed off to USC.

Hamilton has done a very good job of raising the bar at UT - he has been a major push behind the unprecedented facilities at UT. He's an incredible fundraiser for the University and a tireless worker always promoting UT. When are people going to wake up and realize these coaches are accountable for their own actions. Hamilton has done a fine job at UT as AD. We need Hamilton at UT. The people who are calling for Hamilton's head are the same people who think the oil companies are responsible for price hikes at the gas pump, that the rich should pay more than their share of taxes to support everyone with their hand out. Wake up folks. Hamilton has done his job and done it well. I for one don't think Pearl should have been fired, but I'm sure Hamilton will do a fine job of bringing in the very best coach for the job. Go Vols!

Raising the bar. WOW!

Stats under Hamilton:

Football- 3 Head Coaches in 8 years
3 SEC East Division Championships
0 SEC Championships
0 BCS Bowls
0 National Championships
NCAA Violations

Basketball- 0 SEC Championships
6 Trips to NCAA
0 NCAA Championships
NCAA Violations
NCAA Violations
NCAA Violations
Basketball dead for 10 years

Lady Vols- Untouched and was the cream of the crop before his arrival!

So tell me. Where did Hamilton raise the bar?

claiborneh writes:

Not a very informative or insightful article .Reads like a younger person on as angry blog

tulelakevol writes:

in response to SIMSVOL:

A lot of ignorance on the board today. Not unusual come to think of it. Ron Higgins story makes it sound like Hamilton had junior recruits over to his home and lied about it to the NCAA...that Hamilton rushed off to USC.

Hamilton has done a very good job of raising the bar at UT - he has been a major push behind the unprecedented facilities at UT. He's an incredible fundraiser for the University and a tireless worker always promoting UT. When are people going to wake up and realize these coaches are accountable for their own actions. Hamilton has done a fine job at UT as AD. We need Hamilton at UT. The people who are calling for Hamilton's head are the same people who think the oil companies are responsible for price hikes at the gas pump, that the rich should pay more than their share of taxes to support everyone with their hand out. Wake up folks. Hamilton has done his job and done it well. I for one don't think Pearl should have been fired, but I'm sure Hamilton will do a fine job of bringing in the very best coach for the job. Go Vols!

Some good points, he has done well in some areas no doubt. However, he has not done well with the Pearl fiasco. Complete amateur hour with the comments before game time. While Hamilton might be the superhero on your hanes, public perception of him is pretty bad right now. And perception is reality sometimes.

FearTheVols1252 writes:

in response to VolsToTheWall:

hilarious when people act like Pearl was a bad hire. Only slightly less funny when people pretend like they hated having Kiffin for the albeit short time he was here.

Kiffin did cause some trouble for the University, but ultimately he was what UT needed to spring us out of the dark ages of the last 4 years of Fulmer. It was Hamiltons promotion of Blackburn that saved UT from the bad Kiffin did.

If Dooley would've taken over after Fulmer it'd be a different story. Think about how complacent the program was when Fulmer got the axe. No one cared. Dooleys job would've been that much harder. Kiffin breathed life in the program (bout destroyed it, but he didnt). SO, you can be an ignorant fan and blame Hamilton or you can just accept that sometimes things don't go as planned, a dream job opens, someone tells a lie, etc.

I must disagree. If Dooley were brought on board after Fulmer, while still difficult, it wouldn't have been near the headache as starting after a 2nd coaching change. Aside from the NCAA issues we incurred from Kiffin, a lot of damage was also done in regards to recruiting and player morale after he bolted. If Dooley were in place after Fulmer left, I'm confident our football team would be in a better position than it is right now.

And while coaches need to be accounable for their decisions, Hmilton hired them... so he needs to be held accountable as well. He's responsible for researching these coaching candidates. Plenty of questions surrounded both Kiffin and Pearl. I liked Pearl - I liked his energy and his aggressiveness on the court. But he messed up, and his firing came as no surprise to me.

Windy38464 writes:

in response to SIMSVOL:

A lot of ignorance on the board today. Not unusual come to think of it. Ron Higgins story makes it sound like Hamilton had junior recruits over to his home and lied about it to the NCAA...that Hamilton rushed off to USC.

Hamilton has done a very good job of raising the bar at UT - he has been a major push behind the unprecedented facilities at UT. He's an incredible fundraiser for the University and a tireless worker always promoting UT. When are people going to wake up and realize these coaches are accountable for their own actions. Hamilton has done a fine job at UT as AD. We need Hamilton at UT. The people who are calling for Hamilton's head are the same people who think the oil companies are responsible for price hikes at the gas pump, that the rich should pay more than their share of taxes to support everyone with their hand out. Wake up folks. Hamilton has done his job and done it well. I for one don't think Pearl should have been fired, but I'm sure Hamilton will do a fine job of bringing in the very best coach for the job. Go Vols!

Sorry, Mr Haslam, I don't buy one bit of what you are saying. Get rid on Hamilton.

Realist writes:

Ultimately, Hamilton is the boss. He is responsible for the Kiffin fiasco that cost TN millions and NCAA violations. And I will say I love Pearl, but he needed to be fired on the spot when all this unraveled. Again this falls in Hamilton's lap and the basketball fiasco will cost millions. FIRE MIKE HAMILTON!

orangeblood8456 writes:

in response to tnsportsman:

Sure, you can blame the father (MH) that does not know or take the time to know what the son (Pearl/Kiffin) are doing and does not monitor the 'son'

GO VOLS, VFL!

the sons should have their own standands and follow them when they become men.

bogey74 writes:

Higgins is nothing more than a jealous, pompous hack... His Memphis inferiority complex is remarkable and expected.

12Hours writes:

in response to Volunteer-Varmint:

One good decision out of four? That's not very good odds and in my line of work, I'd be unemployed for sure. The quicker this guy is gone, the better.

GBO

This was your response to Vol_N_Texas saying,
"But he did hire Dooley"
So that means you think the Bruce hire as well as the Kiffin hire were bad.
If that's so then why were folks so upset when Kiffin left, and why are the same folks now saying Bruce should have been kept?
Makes no sense!
Many fans thought Kiffin was a good hire (although I admit some did not) But everyone fell in love with Bruce and he was regarded as a VERY good hire by Hamilton.
Now because Bruce shows a dishonest side, that none of us saw coming, Hamilton is an idiot and doesn't know how to hire.
You people are nuts!

thevoice writes:

in response to VolsDoc81TX:

I have to disagree with this article and several posters on here as well as on VolNation too.

Mike Hamilton's biggest fault to this point has been to TRUST the coaches to be honest and run the program with ethical intent.

Coach Fulmer was a great coach, became complacent and got fired for it. To listen to any of the rumors about him...he may have been the greatest at circumventing the ncaa rules and not getting caught...no proof of that, just rumors. I liked CPF, but could not stand the mediocre expectations that ended his career. Mike Hamilton fired him because he was told to. He was made to look like an idiot after he had just been told to give CPF a raise and extension with big buyout.

Hired CBP, looked looked like a genius until CBP broke rules, CBP acted remorseful (oscar level) but continued to lie and cheat. Hamilton is told to support him, then more lies and cheating by CBP and had to fire him. CBP's total fault each and every step of the way.

Kiffin...cannot make any statements about this Buffoon without likely being terminated as a poster here. He was never a representative of my UT. Except that Hamilton again gave trust to an untrustworthy person.

Coach Dooley may be his best hire ...from all accounts, CDD has integrity, follows the rules and is trustworthy...true Volunteer spirit!

AD Mike Hamilton needs to adopt the Bellevue code, "Trust No One" and he has the potential to be a good AD. Should he keep his job? Should he be fired? Not my decision.

Lot of rambling, I know, but the AD is a middle man. He is catching all the flack for being the face associated with some strange decisions...do not kill the messenger...look to the ones pulling his strings and taking none of the blame...

Go Vols!

Perhaps the most objective post since Bruce's lying ways became exposed. Warning: your 4th paragraph will only strike a reciprocal chord with the intelligent fans on here. If that's what you want, fine.

I do however disagree a tab bit about the Kiffin hire. Seems all the folk here want to pile on and blame Hammy for that one. But as I recall, these same (hypocritical) folk were dancing in the streets when he was hired. His untimely leaving was just a stroke of bad luck, not Hammy's fault. USC (or Kiffin himself) would have bought out the remaining years even if he had a much higher buyout clause.

The problems I have with Hammy are several, but mainly not cultivating an environment of compliance. Case in point, UT attorney's warned Kiffin about some of his actions before they took place. Hammy should have been privy and Kiffin should have been controlled. In my mind, Hammy knew about the secondaries Kiffin was committing while or before they were committed. Not good.

Objective, intelligent responses welcome.

BigOrangeJeff writes:

This, from a fan of a school that hired Calapari, who cheated so badly he had a second Final Four appearance vacated.

Projecting much?

utclyde16 writes:

Please don't compare Pearl to the Lane idiot. No one should be compared to him not even Satan.

thevoice writes:

in response to 12Hours:

This was your response to Vol_N_Texas saying,
"But he did hire Dooley"
So that means you think the Bruce hire as well as the Kiffin hire were bad.
If that's so then why were folks so upset when Kiffin left, and why are the same folks now saying Bruce should have been kept?
Makes no sense!
Many fans thought Kiffin was a good hire (although I admit some did not) But everyone fell in love with Bruce and he was regarded as a VERY good hire by Hamilton.
Now because Bruce shows a dishonest side, that none of us saw coming, Hamilton is an idiot and doesn't know how to hire.
You people are nuts!

Not all shall be considered nuts. I do agree that most are though. Pick and choose the bright ones.

claiborneh writes:

in response to SIMSVOL:

A lot of ignorance on the board today. Not unusual come to think of it. Ron Higgins story makes it sound like Hamilton had junior recruits over to his home and lied about it to the NCAA...that Hamilton rushed off to USC.

Hamilton has done a very good job of raising the bar at UT - he has been a major push behind the unprecedented facilities at UT. He's an incredible fundraiser for the University and a tireless worker always promoting UT. When are people going to wake up and realize these coaches are accountable for their own actions. Hamilton has done a fine job at UT as AD. We need Hamilton at UT. The people who are calling for Hamilton's head are the same people who think the oil companies are responsible for price hikes at the gas pump, that the rich should pay more than their share of taxes to support everyone with their hand out. Wake up folks. Hamilton has done his job and done it well. I for one don't think Pearl should have been fired, but I'm sure Hamilton will do a fine job of bringing in the very best coach for the job. Go Vols!

Many say Hamilton is a good fundraiser but don't back it up with numbers. By data shows me he is comparable to others in the SEC. Unprecedented facilities? I hope so because facilities are a dime a dozen at major programs anymore. Been to Florida, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama? Even South Carolina? We are just keeping up with the Joneses. Of course what we have today is unprecedented because it is the result of high stakes college sports today. Hamilton makes 400k a year, he better be a decent fundraiser. I like Hamilton and want him to say. Im just over the great fundraiser talking points because the University has years of loyal backers and sales itself like most of the other schools in the SEC

Fryinpansvols writes:

in response to Realist:

Raising the bar. WOW!

Stats under Hamilton:

Football- 3 Head Coaches in 8 years
3 SEC East Division Championships
0 SEC Championships
0 BCS Bowls
0 National Championships
NCAA Violations

Basketball- 0 SEC Championships
6 Trips to NCAA
0 NCAA Championships
NCAA Violations
NCAA Violations
NCAA Violations
Basketball dead for 10 years

Lady Vols- Untouched and was the cream of the crop before his arrival!

So tell me. Where did Hamilton raise the bar?

Agreed. However, we did win 1 regular season SEC Championship in Men's BB. GBO and Fire Mike Hamilton!

Realist writes:

in response to claiborneh:

Many say Hamilton is a good fundraiser but don't back it up with numbers. By data shows me he is comparable to others in the SEC. Unprecedented facilities? I hope so because facilities are a dime a dozen at major programs anymore. Been to Florida, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama? Even South Carolina? We are just keeping up with the Joneses. Of course what we have today is unprecedented because it is the result of high stakes college sports today. Hamilton makes 400k a year, he better be a decent fundraiser. I like Hamilton and want him to say. Im just over the great fundraiser talking points because the University has years of loyal backers and sales itself like most of the other schools in the SEC

Eventually, someone is going to demand a return on their investment!

CroKev writes:

Let's not forget that the only reason Hamilton or anybody else has hired Kiffin is because of his Dad. If it wasn't for the package deal, no one would ever have given young Lane the time of day.

ellerbee123 writes:

The headline should be "Mike Hamilton's Mistakes Cost Him His Job"....

No, ifs, ands or buts this man has to go.....

The_Mayor writes:

I don't know if this has already been posted somewhere or discussed, but this email has circulated to me, and it would be good to know if there is anyone out there who can validate it or refute it. Either way, I found it very interesting.

Part 1 of 4

Below is an email that has been sent around that the UT insiders on the message boards are saying describes the basketball situation almost perfectly.  The athletic dept. and the coaches both made mistakes, but the overall story is Pearl dug his own grave.    
 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some of this you may know, but I will go through everything I know both from what I have been told and to fill in the gaps, from what a few trusted UTAD people and media people are saying and confirming.

The week after the initial press conf on Sept 10th the UT board of trustees met at the Florida game. Pearl was discussed and at that time the board was split over whether to keep Pearl. Jim Haslam, who we all know has a ton of pull, supported Pearl and therefore he was safe. Hamilton argued that we wouldn’t have a coach since the season was less than 2 months away and that Pearl should be allowed to coach Steven in his last year, etc. Basically Hamilton wanted to make sure the had an opportunity to save Pearl.

The NCAA was NOT happy with the fact Pearl and the coaches were allowed to recruit for 2 weeks after the press conf up until Sept 24th. Because of this they followed Pearl and all the coaches talking with everyone who they met with over those 2 weeks looking for something.

This is where the downfall started. They talked with this kid in Georgia who was a junior and therefore off limits for coaches to talk to. The kid told the NCAA that he had a 3-5 minute conversation with Pearl and Jones. The NCAA noted this and later charged Pearl/UT with a major violation mainly because Pearl did not report this to UT compliance. In fact, UT only found out about it after the lawyer UT hired to help them with the NCAA found out from the NCAA. Had the lawyer not found it would have been a total surprise to UT when we finally received the letter of allegations from the NCAA a few weeks ago. 

So this is when it all started to go downhill in mid November when this "bump" violation was made known to UT. When confronted Pearl said he didn’t report it because he had no clue it was a violation at all and that they talked to the kid for less than 30 seconds. Mike Slive was also made aware of the “bump” violation and thus suspended Pearl for 8 SEC games in late November hoping he could mitigate the punishment for Pearl. Clearly, the NCAA didn’t care about that.

The_Mayor writes:

Part 2 of 4

The UT admin was NOT happy at all. Around December 1st the staff was told about the latest issue and the administrations unhappiness and the real possibility they were all gone. This also coincides with the start of our bad play after the NIT tournament ended on December 11th when the rest of the basketball operations staff and eventually the players began to hear there were some real issues. The coaches did their best to downplay what was going on and assure the players everything was fine, but clearly something was going on with their heads.

The coaches knew they could be done and in late December when Jana Shay (Jason's wife) told me, "We don't think any of us will be here next year". In anticipation of that she started the process to get her teachers license planning that Jason would be unemployed for a year or two. The Shay’s love Knoxville, so even if Jason gets fired they won’t move until he gets another job.

Mike Hamilton continued his public and private support of Pearl and his compliance team tried vigorously to work with the NCAA to have the “bump” violation removed from the letter of allegations. Mike knew had they been able to do that the public would have never know about it and some of the support Pearl lost with the UT administration may have come back. UT compliance argued that it was basically less than a minor violation, it was only 30 seconds, and cited numerous other instances of coaches who weren’t even reprimanded for their bumps. The NCAA didn’t buy it and thus charged Pearl with a major violation for not reporting. When it did come out in the letter of allegations UT downplayed it with the media saying they already knew about it, it wasn’t a big deal, and they thought they could get it removed. Hamilton asked for a summary disposition (basically a plea) but was denied by the NCAA. He had hoped they could find out the penalties and mitigate them by essentially pleading guilty and saving Pearl. The NCAA wants Pearl to testify in front of the committee on infractions and hear what he has to say. He wouldn’t have had to if we were granted the summary disposition. The belief is the NCAA also knew UT would try to keep Pearl if granted the summary disposition. 

Behind the scenes the damage was already done and Pearl’s fate had been decided. I was told on March 1st Mike Hamilton was called into a meeting with the Chancellor and/or President and was told Pearl would be let go by the end of the season. The crazy thing was I ran into Hamilton in the G5/30 parking lot about 3:30 as he was coming out of that meeting in Andy Holt tower where the presidents/chancellors offices are. I was over there going into a meeting with the university development office on a project I am invoved with. I chatted briefly with him and went on my way. Little did I know what had just happened.

The_Mayor writes:

Part 3 of 4

One of the reasons the UT administration is firing Pearl is because the NCAA let it be known that if UT stuck with Pearl we would get hammered. Pearl would get 2 year show-cause (essentially firing him any way), UT would lose up to 2 scholarships for 2-3 years, major recruiting restrictions, and at least 1 year of a post season ban. If Pearl was not the coach, he would still get his show-cause but UT would only suffer a loss of 1 scholarship for a year or two with some minor recruiting restrictions (loss of a few on campus visits). The NCAA essentially said Pearl lied again to save himself by not self reporting the” bump”.

Basically the NCAA told us to fire Pearl or else. 

For about two weeks after the March 1st meeting Hamilton worked feverishly to try and keep Pearl. He has gone back to the NCAA asking again for the summary disposition, he has met with the Chancellor and President discussing the financial fallout both from donations, ticket sales, concession sales, etc as well as the hit to the program’s ability to compete if Pearl is gone. I was told he basically told them we would still be better off keeping Pearl, taking the NCAA hit (as he believes they can get it down to 1 year show-cause/suspension, 2 scholarship loss for 2 years, and minor recruiting restrictions) vs. starting all over with a new coach. Either way we take a few steps back, but with Pearl we take 3 steps back, without him we take 8 steps back.

At some point late last week Hamilton was told to drop it and that their decision was not going to change (apparently he and Cheek had a brief heated exchange where Mike was reminded who the boss was). He was also told that he needed to lay the ground work for Pearl’s departure though I would guess if I could ask him he wouldn’t have been so direct in the Hyams interview and would have just leaked the info today.

Also last week Pearl met with Jim Haslam as Pearl was made aware of his fate. They discussed a financial settlement and Pearl was planning to resign at the end of the season and made this known to some people last weekend.

I have been told that Pearl is pissed that this came out ahead of time and had hoped his resignation would be looked at favorably by UT fans as him doing they right thing and not wanting to cause UT anymore harm.

Once again Hamilton was told by his bosses to get the word out that Pearl would not be back. This was done because apparently there was a lack of communication as the UT admin didn’t think or know Pearl would go quietly and resign.

The_Mayor writes:

Part 4 of 4

This is also why you saw Pearl and his coaches say they wanted to be back, their 6 year record speaks for itself, etc. It is now a  PR  battle and all about the buyout money.

Ultimately, I have been lead to believe that Pearl will still resign in the next couple of days and he and his assistants will get buyouts. Shay and Ken Johnson may be retained briefly until the new coach his hired. 

The resignation vs.. firing could change, but the fact that he will not be our coach has been decided barring a last minute flip by the president/chancellor which no one thinks will happen.

I have also been lead to believe that Mike Hamilton will remain as AD and his fate rests in Dooley’s hands. He gained a lot of points with the administration by moving David Blackburn to monitor Kiffin which saved our butts with the NCAA in football. (Hamilton also had a lot more dirt on Kiffin and could have fired him for cause had he not left). The administration is also very happy with the financial side of the athletic department was well as the facility improvements. Now if Hamilton was going to get fired it may not be out yet since Chancellor Cheek , the UT president and Jim Haslam would probably be the only ones to know but as of now all news is he stays. 

For as bad a  PR  guy as Hamilton has been he has done a lot for UT and truly wanted Pearl to stay and did everything he could to make that happen. In the end the administration said Pearl was not bigger than the university and a few years of bad basketball was worth the universities integrity and reputation. 

I completely understand those who want Hamilton gone for specific reasons (Kiffin, Pearl, NCAA, Pr , etc), but there appears to just be a lot of “I hate that guy” stuff out there. 

I will let you know if I hear anything else, but that is what I have been told and know to date.

HHUUMMBBLLEE writes:

H.A.M.I.L.T.O.N ------ Horrible ... Awful ... Medeocre ... Idiot ... Loser ... Traitor ... Outofhere ... Ninny

orangeblood8456 writes:

if not for the leaked picture of aaron craft and a coaching vacancy at usc, mike hamilton would be praised as a genius.

Realist writes:

in response to orangeblood8456:

if not for the leaked picture of aaron craft and a coaching vacancy at usc, mike hamilton would be praised as a genius.

LOL. I believe you are probably correct. But it did not turn out that way and now he is a duck. One of the hazards with gambling!

bluecat55 writes:

in response to BigOrangeJeff:

This, from a fan of a school that hired Calapari, who cheated so badly he had a second Final Four appearance vacated.

Projecting much?

Cheated? Really? What has the NCAA ever charged Cal with? Illegal contact with recruits? Illegal BBQ's? Lying to the NCAA? Not recognizing his own kitchen in a picture? Covering up his lie? Telling asst coaches to cover up his lies? Telling recruits parents to cover up his lies? Breaking the bump rule DURING an NCAA investigation (that one is classic)? Creating a bogus injury story to cover up a player's substance abuse. The old "Cal is a cheater " line is old and played, especially in light of the current condition of UT basketball. That dog won't hunt.

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