John Adams: It has been a disastrous year for UT

John Adams

A bad school year took another turn for the worse Monday night in Dayton, Ohio. Tennessee fans shouldn't have been surprised.

The Lady Vols' 73-59 loss to Notre Dame in the Elite Eight of the NCAA women's basketball tournament wasn't an isolated incident. It was a continuation of a school year gone wrong.

A casual check of the usual measuring sticks might suggest otherwise. UT's football team played in a bowl game. Both basketball teams made the NCAA tournament.

But the usual measuring sticks don't apply in 2010-2011.

The football and men's basketball programs have been found guilty of major NCAA violations. Basketball coach Bruce Pearl, one of the most successful and popular coaches in school history, has been fired. All the post-season ventures have produced calamitous results.

It has been a crash-and-burn kind of year. And beneath the disasters, there has been an undercurrent of incompetence at the administrative level. Those guys apparently can't announce a simple personnel decision without having to issue an apology.

Their latest apology was to Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt, who first heard on ESPN about the hiring of men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin.

Don't get me wrong. I don't begrudge UT making a fast hire. Given the suddenly declining status of the UT men's basketball program, I wondered if athletic director Mike Hamilton might have to hold up a "Coach Wanted" sign on an interstate ramp. Any coach who even hinted at saying "yes" should have been bound in a chair and held without food and water until he signed a contract.

But even though this had to be wrapped up quickly, some administrative-type could have at least texted the news to Summitt.

She's not just another coach. She is the university's most recognizable face and best ambassador. Moreover, she makes a habit of befriending and supporting whoever is running the men's basketball program.

And this is no time to ignore a supporter.

Chris Fuller, an associate athletic director at UT, was asked about the Summitt slight on the Sports Animal on Tuesday morning. He later told News Sentinel staff writer Michael Silence via email that the basketball search committee was "very aware of the Lady Vols preparation for the tournament and any lack of communication with Summitt was unintentional."

It's encouraging to know the UT administration didn't make a conscious effort to insult its most famous coach. Instead, it was simply doing what it does best - committing PR blunders.

On another encouraging note, Fuller wrote in the same email that "we will certainly apologize to Coach Summitt."

Fans more readily can overlook such gaffes when their teams' seasons end right. But the seasons have ended all wrong.

The football team was left with a losing record when the Music City Bowl went North Carolina's way in overtime. The trauma was compounded by a controversial call at the end of regulation play, after the Vols seemingly had a victory in hand.

The men's basketball team suffered one of the most embarrassing setbacks of the NCAA tournament. The fallout from the 30-point loss to Michigan in the first round was exacerbated by comments from Hamilton several days earlier.

He remarked on radio that - despite his previous supportive comments - Pearl's job was in jeopardy. It's questionable whether the team was more stunned by that or Michigan.

Good thing Hamilton apologized later, huh?

The Lady Vols' season was a rousing success for the most part. They came within a victory of their 19th Final Four and were only one win short of becoming the fourth team in school history to win at least 35 games.

Yet the ending was so unexpectedly brutal, it will overshadow much of what the team accomplished. The Lady Vols looked uncertain and unprepared at the outset, and thoroughly incapable down the stretch against Notre Dame.

Just another reason for UT fans to proclaim "good riddance" at the end of this school year. In the meantime, they can rally around the baseball team.

John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews. Follow him at http://twitter.com/johnadamskns.

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Comments » 37

volsfannsc writes:

BicardiRum
You really like to hear yourself talk don't you. Maybe you should take your puritan and naive comments and ask KNS if they will hire you as a guest columnist- the two of you never seem to be satisifed unless your kocking on Vols athletics.
IMHO

huckabee writes:

I bet Mr. Adams is a joy to live with! What a glass half empty human being. Some of us saw a lot of positives come out of this year. We now have replaced a corrupt basketball and football coach with men who appear to have integrity. We went to a bowl game! The men's team made the NCAA for the sixth year in a row. The women made the elite 8! Looks like the ship is going in the right direction now! Try being positve for once Mr. Adams.

volsfan74 writes:

I'm sure John Adams truly enjoyed using the words DISASTROUS and Tennessee Sports in the same sentence.

arkyvol writes:

"we can rally around the baseball team."

what baseball team?

another one of hamilton's achievements.

TennVol01 writes:

Incompetence starts at the top ! Hamilton is here for his marketing skills, not his A.D. skills. UT chooses making money over everything else. UT's athletic budget is one of the top five successful in the nation.

bigorangeyankees writes:

If you want to read about corruption, go to foxsports.com, Auburn's ex football players tell how they received cash to play, and was offered girls at the ohio state.

vut56#231073 writes:

A disastrous year? When we are talking about "games" and such? Does this compare with Japan, Libya, domestic issues and individual hardships? Another poster mentioneed the glass half full thing.

Adams and his industry write the stories and then describe and place value on those stories. Does that make the stories valid? I think not...in every case.

We fired a coach, for reason, but our team still won more than it lost; half the teams in the USA cannot make such a claim. Through all this, those men team members have been ignored and forgotten, as if their sweat and effort matters not one whit.

The Lady Vols were slighted, in error, but their achievements this year should not have been drug into the "disastrous" evidence pile.

The greater disaster is the lack of support for higher education in Tennessee, witnessed by the overall lack of financial support. That we can pay coaches and afford paint for skyboxes...and not professors and needed facilities should be the issue. Football and basketball fans are the same citizens who make these choices Sports? Disaster? Com'on.

SteveT107 writes:

Mike Hamilton's incompetence is nothing short of stunning. How in the world he still has his job boggles my mind. You would think he would have the common sense to at least informally include Pat on the search committee by asking her opinion. I'm sorry, but when your football and basketball teams face violations, the AD's time is up.

ogle writes:

in response to BicardiRum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

couldn't you be getting some work done somewhere else?

Southland writes:

might as well laugh Adams' slam on the baseball program was funny

hallsguy writes:

Best way to get rid of Hammy; vote with your feet and a closed checkbook. That's the only language that will get their attention. If the skyboxes don't lease and VASF funds drop, Hammy will be gone.

Vol86 writes:

Some of the reporting and articles have been bad also. I did not read the article but it had to stink.

gwills228#231210 writes:

in response to huckabee:

I bet Mr. Adams is a joy to live with! What a glass half empty human being. Some of us saw a lot of positives come out of this year. We now have replaced a corrupt basketball and football coach with men who appear to have integrity. We went to a bowl game! The men's team made the NCAA for the sixth year in a row. The women made the elite 8! Looks like the ship is going in the right direction now! Try being positve for once Mr. Adams.

looks like the ship is going in the right direction? man.... the last time a ship went in this direction,it sank!

huntsvol17 writes:

John, you said "school year" when you meant "football/basketball" year. Unbelievably, UT is about more than its two biggest sports.

AncientVol writes:

Adams' column is baloney. There are negative happenings in some time periods and positive happenings in other time periods. He attempts to make a series of embarrassments or setbacks seem more important than they really are. Our biggest current obstacle is the possible threat to the BB program of 10 major violations, not Hamilton's competence, not the timing of notification to Summitt, not losing a BB game to Notre Dame, not the delay in sacking Pearl.

winVol writes:

FIRE HAMILTON,,,,,FIRE HAMILTON,,,FIRE HAMILTON,,,, IF U FIRED HIM NOW IT WOULD BE WAY TO LATE

orangeman1 writes:

in response to huckabee:

I bet Mr. Adams is a joy to live with! What a glass half empty human being. Some of us saw a lot of positives come out of this year. We now have replaced a corrupt basketball and football coach with men who appear to have integrity. We went to a bowl game! The men's team made the NCAA for the sixth year in a row. The women made the elite 8! Looks like the ship is going in the right direction now! Try being positve for once Mr. Adams.

I've been a UT fan since the mid 80's and while its true there were some positives this last year, the negatives have far outweighed them. The negative press all year about the BB team, losing by 30 in the NCAA, and losing 7 games in football have not been fun. This has been the least enjoyable/exciting year for UT sports in my memory. Adams is just telling the truth. My expectations for UT sports are at an all time low, but I hope Dooley and Martin can do something about that.

UofTNVol writes:

John Adams hates UT. KNS is dedicated to doing everything possible to manipulate you people into a frenzied mob. Too bad so many of you mopes are so easy to manipulate. Great job, KNS!

PennVol writes:

Pearl makes the elite 8 and he's a hero. Summitt loses in elite 8 and it's a disaster. Funny how expectations are different.

Einstein writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree Hamilton needs to go and go now. Don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out. He "always talks before he puts his brain in gear." With Hamilton's PR blunders its a wonder Pat still has a job. Hamilton could probably find a high school coach from Class A that would take the job. If Jimmy Cheek really supports Hamilton, then Cheek needs to go right behind Hamilton. I will hold the door for them as long as I have a key to lock it when they depart.

willaustin writes:

"Cheek and his wife, Ileen, have two adult children.
Outside of work, Cheek said his interests include traveling, gardening and playing with his only grandchild, Abigail. He’s also a huge basketball and football fan."

“Shifting allegiance from the Gators to the Vols will be tough,” Cheek admits, “but my blood is already half orange.”

Apparently this is something he's still struggling with 2 years later. His efforts here (or lack thereof) are helping the Gators still to this day.

http://www.utk.edu/tntoday/2009/02/02...

hillsborovol writes:

in response to arkyvol:

"we can rally around the baseball team."

what baseball team?

another one of hamilton's achievements.

arkyvol...this is the worst of the Hamilton decisions, yet because it is "only" baseball, it doesn't get the attention it deserves.

Stanman08 writes:

John, let's put your opinion in perspective. What’s more important, UTK disastrous athletic year or the Japan and Libya crisis? It's just sports.

Pompey writes:

in response to bigorangegoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

....this is a joke, right?

phillyvol writes:

in response to PennVol:

Pearl makes the elite 8 and he's a hero. Summitt loses in elite 8 and it's a disaster. Funny how expectations are different.

Exactly. Since when did making it to an Elite 8 constitute a bad season? Are we so jaded about Coach Summitt's accomplishments that we have to badmouth them even when she's successful?

I'm tired of these downer articles. Everything is presented as negative even when there are clear positives. What is the point of this article anyway? Another thing -- why are sports reporter allowed to have this much opinion placed in their news articles? Does anyone just report anymore? Is it all commentary now?

Pompey writes:

in response to workinlikehek:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

...vol fans have a long history of attacking anyone who brings the truth in the form of bad news.....I see nothing has changed.

BobbyBoober writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

1BADVOL writes:

in response to TennVol01:

Incompetence starts at the top ! Hamilton is here for his marketing skills, not his A.D. skills. UT chooses making money over everything else. UT's athletic budget is one of the top five successful in the nation.

I met Mike Hamilton at the Big Orange Caravan down here in Orlando. He opened up the speech prior to Bruce Pearl speaking and Phil Fulmer. All he spoke about was donating money and that is a huge part of his job. I think he does well at that because we have a successful alumni base contributing. When I look at him as AD and not PR guru I think he has done about a B-. He got rid of Fulmer which at the time was needed although I love Coach Fulmer and what he has done. The Lane Kiffin hire was his achilles heel but he followed up with Dooley. He took a huge risk on supporting Pearl (which he made a good hire on initialliy) I believe he finally realized the "juice was not worth the squeeze" when it comes to NCAA sanctions. His radio interview 2 days prior was just a very bad decision and his hire of CCM for Pearl's replacement was a good hire but the timing of the announcement again with the Lady Vols about to play was in bad taste. We all make bad decision at work and would take some things back but to be honest I think the VOL ship in football and basketball has been righted and we as true VOL fans will just have to wait.

chiputfan writes:

For the LOVE of UT. Fire Hamilton NOW!!!!!!!!

VolzsFan writes:

When the NCAA takes over the gate for the NCAA tourney and makes all fans actually buy a ticket with money and not a can of corn, the LV attendance was 9,000. They survive with welfare money from the mens program. The men claim all facility expenses so not to make their bottom line look worse. The men have been named the 17th most valuable basketball program by Money magazine. The men had a $14 million PROFIT last year. Compare that with Southern Cal's $16 million profit in football. Bruce got the arena renovated and the practice facility built. Pat is like the back up pilot on a plane that thinks she invented the airplane.

Pat is not owed anything. In a few days she will no longer be the woman's coach with the most National Titles. She is already 2nd in winning % and head to head with the Great Gino. After he ties her 8th title in about 15 years fewer chances, we can start looking for her retirement day.

VolzsFan writes:

Coaches like Pearl, Delmonico and Fulmer set this program back 25 years. Yes they where by far the most successful in their sport in school history. Yes they are all headed to Hall of Fame status. But here at UT we are all about hiring like we are at Middle Tenn and not Tenn. That is how we roll. Success? That is for the other guy. We will have none of that around here any longer. Those 3 set an unrealistic bar of success for a program like UT and now have theses fans acting like they are Alabama in football, Duke in basketball and Arizona State in baseball. When in fact UT is a bridesmaid and will always be that. Those 3 took us outside that and ruined us. We where happy with 6 wins and a good BBQ on Saturday. We where happy with a sub 500 baseball and no SEC Tournament. We where happy going on a run just to get invited to the NIT. Now you see how those guys ruined this program and the hayseeds that follow it.

Yes, Hamilton destroyed a program clicking at historic highs in baseball and football and systematically destroyed them. His decision to retain Buzz (and later corrected by Haslem) would have been catastrophic. When those powers told Ernie to hire a coach and he gave us Pearl. Than Hamilton began mishandling that program in hopes of destroying it. Mission accomplished.

minnehan writes:

Please go to work in a town where you actually can like the sports team you are writing about. You get such pleasure out of spewing your anti- Tennessee opinion (venom). While the spirit of the article may be correct is some ways, it is a lot of overkill in my opinion. What kind of sadistic thrill do you get from being able to write the way you do? What is your problem? What conflicts in your life have you not resolved that cause you to write with such angst? Who are you angry with?

Go home to LSU or Alabama wherever it is that you hail from and resolve your issues. Let us bask in our misery without you adding to it. Would love to never see your name in print in a Tennessee newpaper again. Your articles are as old as Lane Kiffin news. Please, please go away!

TNPilgrim writes:

Just amazing how some people want to "shoot the messenger" - in this case being John Adams. The lax administrative oversight has allowed a culture of gang-bangers over there for a long time, and anybody halfway close to the university knows it. Stop and think why the Douglas kid transferred all the way out to AZ to play football - and then ended up signing with the Tide. UT needs to make some serious changes at the administrative level. Starting with Cheek and Hamilton would be a giant step forward.

VOLliven2it writes:

Negative Ned(no offense to Neds out there)John Adams does it again. He finds all the bad and goes on and on about it. I do have to admit the part with Hammy beside the interstate with a sign "Coach Wanted" is quite amusing. This has been a challenging year in UT sports. We know that but hope to move on even with some more challenges on the way. So we must brace ourselves for a rough ride more in men's basketball than anything else. Coach Summitt will deal with her issues and the Lady Vols will be back. So Negative Ned Adams, give us a break man will you?

Volumnus writes:

Mr. Adams has such a keenly developed sense of the extremely obvious! Thank you John for another rub salt in the wound article. I don't know what Knoxville would do without you... but I would certainly like to find out.

FWBVol writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

Coaches like Pearl, Delmonico and Fulmer set this program back 25 years. Yes they where by far the most successful in their sport in school history. Yes they are all headed to Hall of Fame status. But here at UT we are all about hiring like we are at Middle Tenn and not Tenn. That is how we roll. Success? That is for the other guy. We will have none of that around here any longer. Those 3 set an unrealistic bar of success for a program like UT and now have theses fans acting like they are Alabama in football, Duke in basketball and Arizona State in baseball. When in fact UT is a bridesmaid and will always be that. Those 3 took us outside that and ruined us. We where happy with 6 wins and a good BBQ on Saturday. We where happy with a sub 500 baseball and no SEC Tournament. We where happy going on a run just to get invited to the NIT. Now you see how those guys ruined this program and the hayseeds that follow it.

Yes, Hamilton destroyed a program clicking at historic highs in baseball and football and systematically destroyed them. His decision to retain Buzz (and later corrected by Haslem) would have been catastrophic. When those powers told Ernie to hire a coach and he gave us Pearl. Than Hamilton began mishandling that program in hopes of destroying it. Mission accomplished.

Fulmer and Pearl were very successful in football and baseball, but I a lot of people, myself included could make a strong argument that the General was the best football coach in school history and that Ray Mears, and even Don DeVoe were as good or better basketball coaches than Bruce Pearl.

Yes, Pearl took the team to a record six-consecutive NCAA appearances, but he dod so at a time the field had been expanded to 64 and this year 68 teams.

Delmonico was probably the best baseball coach in school history, but did bring a lot of it on himself.

I am one of those who believe that Fulmer could have turned the football program back around, but I also understand why the decision was made to fire him in 2008. I do think the timing was wrong.

I doubt seriously if Hamilton hired Bruce Pearl with the thought that Pearl would bring basketball back to heights of popularity it hasn't known in years and then lie to the NCAA and get the program in hot water with the NCAA.

Do I agree with everything Hamilton does? No, but to say the man is intentionally mishandling things so he can destroy the UT athletic department is, to say the least, upsurd.

Classof72 writes:

I support Mike Hamilton 100%. Thanks for the memories....Not.
(Don't let the door hit you in the lower deck on your way out.)

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