John Adams: Mike Hamilton hasn't had a good year

John Adams

Todd Raleigh obviously was better off not talking to Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton.

They finally met face-to-face Monday afternoon. The meeting didn't last much longer than it takes to say hello and goodbye.

The goodbye was permanent in Raleigh's case. He was fired as UT's baseball coach by the same man who hired him four years ago.

Raleigh will be paid about $330,000 and presumably get a T-shirt that says "Mike Hamilton Paid Me To Leave." The way Hamilton is firing coaches, some entrepreneur is apt to start mass producing such shirts.

Raleigh now is a certified member of the "I Got Hamiltoned Club," which includes former UT coaches Rod Delmonico (baseball), Phillip Fulmer ( football), Buzz Peterson ( basketball), and Bruce Pearl (basketball). But there are a couple of significant differences between those guys and Raleigh.

One difference: Raleigh had a worse record than any of them, and fewer defenders than Hamilton after failing to reach the SEC tournament for the fourth consecutive year.

Another difference: Hamilton actually talked to those other coaches.

Raleigh said after Friday night's game against Auburn that he hadn't talked to Hamilton since a Christmas party last December. He said Saturday his only communication with the athletic director since then had been through a couple of text messages.

If you take the coach at his word, then you would conclude Hamilton has elevated avoidance management to an art form. You also might conclude that's he's almost as adept at that as he is at rendering former employees financially secure. UT and its boosters could have revitalized a third-world country with all the out-the-door bucks they have thrown at Hamilton's fired coaches.

That brings up a slightly related question: How does Hamilton still have a job?

Raleigh went 25-29 in his last season. But he had a better year than Hamilton.

Both UT football and basketball made the NCAA's hit list. Hamilton fired two of the coaches (Pearl and Raleigh) that he hired. He also struck a blow for Tennessee pride when he replaced North Carolina with Buffalo on the 2011 football schedule.

Yet he mysteriously continues in a job he has held since 2003, as though things are going swimmingly. He also continues to hire coaches as though he will be around forever, or at least long enough to fire them.

You don't have to be a competent sports administrator to determine what UT baseball needs in its next hire. It needs someone who will create a big splash - big enough to convince fans and recruits that it's seriously committed to reviving a sport that no longer can advance as far as the SEC tournament in Hoover, Ala. The best way to do that is to hire a coach who already has succeeded at this level.

Raleigh was the coach at Western Carolina when Hamilton hired him in 2007. In introducing his new coach, Hamilton said he stood out among an impressive list of candidates.

"He and his wife, Stephanie, will be a great addition to our team, as we work our way back to Omaha in pursuit of a national championship," Hamilton said at the time.

He might want to amend that for the next hire. Something like: " . . . as we work our way back to Hoover in pursuit of a postseason presence."

Then, he should turn to the new coach and say, "See you at the Christmas party."

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

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Comments » 70

wildmed writes:

Can't wait to see the next rinky dink Hamilton unearths...

Areyousure writes:

Why did it take so long for you to start asking these questions publicly? Why are we buying out contracts for people fired because they were not performing their job? Fire Hamilton, make a pool out of his salary, add the rest left on Pearl's payoff, Raleigh's payoff and split that amount among the hourly employees on campus as a one-time "bonus" to offset Hamilton's screwups.

collegegrad writes:

If UT should wise up, then, they'd fire Hamilton,and his career be over, Then, he can get a job as a grill cook at McDonald's or other fast food restaurant, dishwasher, busser, or grill cook, for shoney's or other dine-in restaurant, door greeter, stock person, or sales clerk for Wal-Mart, bagger, stock person, or grocery clerk for Ingle's, assembly line associate for a factory, stock person for a warehouse, custodial engineer (janitor) for a local school, hospital, or business, luggage expeditor (bellhop) for Holiday Inn, sanitation specialist (garbage man) for the landfill/dump, used car salesman, gas station attendant, or ditch digger (utility worker) for the city/county. He'll have plenty of new career options ahead of him

CoverOrange writes:

And KNS wonders why the UTAD doesn't return their calls.

Pullingguard writes:

Face the facts..Vol sports programs (Men's) is in a real free fall and will be surprised if Hamilton has put the right people in place to change the trend and from the performance factor of those he has hired in recent years it's amazing that he still has a job.. He knows something or someone loves having him around making those bad decisions...

JacksonvilleVol writes:

I remember back in the day when we were at least average in every men's sport. Oh wait, that was 7 years ago. Sigh... How does Hamilton still have a job? He seriously can't manage sports of any type or level. Hooray, he can fundraise. Boo, he makes UT and UT sports look like butt in the national media, hires mediocre coaches (sans Pearl), and can't get the UT student base to back him up. How can he have a job?

KJVol writes:

"Yet he mysteriously continues in a job he has held since _____, as though things are going swimmingly."

John Adams could just as well be speaking about how he continues to milk the News-Slantinel of a paycheck while posing as a writer.

jhayes0926#638474 writes:

J.A. - Hamilton never makes a "big name splash". I am guessing we will hire another Div. 1-AA coach who will become the next super star UT Div. 1 coach that will elevate the program "to the next level".

eb502us#225637 writes:

Got to commend Adams here for calling a spade a spade.

How many AD's have gone an entire season without speaking to their coach?
Is it not a major part of the job description?

Where are the big money donors and why are they not calling for Hamilton's head? It's time to get rid of this clown before it's too late.

As it stands now, we're fast becoming the laughing stock of the entire SEC and Hamilton's the number one reason why.

Huttdawg100 writes:

Hamilton is only around because of the NCAA hearing in June. We need him to plead our case before the Infractions Committee. I strongly believe he'll either step down or be fired shortly after our punishment is announced. USC did the same thing with their former AD, Mike Garrett. The new baseball coach will be the last act he takes as our AD.

VOLliven2it writes:

Okay Lonemountain, you made your point about Bruce Pearl. Do we just rehire him now before the NCAA hits us and get it worse? He is gone and that might not have been the case if good old AD Hamman had handled him more responsibly. Our football program would have problems but not have been scrutinized as it has been if Hammy had handled the former head coach twinky at all. If he keeps his job, I will still be a Vol fan and still attend games. But let me say it now, if he remains we will not get back to where we should be and could be with the right leadership. As for Adams, everyone knows all he is incapable of but the KNS keeps him anyway.

DocKJM writes:

FIRE MIKE FIRE MIKE FIRE MIKE.

How many more screw-up hires will the University have to continue to pay after his next mistake? OK this guy had to go, BUT WHO HIRED HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!

With his track record over the past few years I say it is time that MIKE now has to GO.

FIRE MIKE FIRE MIKE FIRE MIKE!!!

Send moving trucks to Mikes House! Dont let the door hit you in the rear on your way out!

FIRE MIKE FIRE MIKE FIRE MIKE!!!

stevefrommemphis writes:

I suspect that the school administration likes Hamilton, because the objective financial measures have been positive. Sodexo paid a pretty penny for the rights to sell tiny boxes of popcorn for $4 apiece at Neyland. Same for Host Communications. Ticket holder required contributions are filtered through the athletic dept. controlled Volunteer Fund. So the athletic dept. shows a profit.

The subjective things that can't be measured are negatives. How many alumni have cut gifts to the university to the required minimum for tickets, as a protest against the dictate that contributions be filtered through the athletic department's Volunteer Fund? How many alumni leaving Chattanooga take I-75 south to Georgia Tech / ACC football, instead of I-75 north to Knoxville, whenever Tennessee is playing a meaningless game against a weak opponent like Buffalo or MTSU? How many fans refuse to spend $9 on a Coke and popcorn at Neyland? How many loyal alumni who held tickets in the west upper deck for 40+ years and were jettisoned to make room for the Tennessee Terrace quit caring? For the first three questions, I know the answer is "at least one," because I fit. For the last question, the son of one of the men who helped Neyland or Woodruff raise the money to build the west upper deck sued the school when he was forced out of his seats.

orangeone10 writes:

We have the worst AD in the history of college sports.

VolMoment writes:

in response to KJVol:

"Yet he mysteriously continues in a job he has held since _____, as though things are going swimmingly."

John Adams could just as well be speaking about how he continues to milk the News-Slantinel of a paycheck while posing as a writer.

How John Adams can talk about anybody's ability to do their job is beyond me. When is KNS going to fire him/ Surely within the next couple of months. He is the worst sports editor. I wrote the KNS about him when he tried to stir a QB controvery with Peyton Manning and Brandon Stewart. I ask them then how could they keep someone with so little talent. Peyton is 35 yr. old.

VolzsFan writes:

John knows that Hammy is done after the NCAA meeting. He wants to try and look smart ahead of time. You are only about 5 years late to the party John. Now time to pander to Phil before he puts Hammy on the street.

OrangePride writes:

in response to Areyousure:

Why did it take so long for you to start asking these questions publicly? Why are we buying out contracts for people fired because they were not performing their job? Fire Hamilton, make a pool out of his salary, add the rest left on Pearl's payoff, Raleigh's payoff and split that amount among the hourly employees on campus as a one-time "bonus" to offset Hamilton's screwups.

In this case there is little choice. He has a five year contract and has to be paid for the last year...which in this case is about 300K.

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

I have attended games for 47 years. Starting at 9 yrs old selling cokes in the stadium and Stokely for 15cents just to get into games. I held season tickets for over 30 years to football. I finally had enough of Hamilton's mismanagement , that I gave up my season tickets as well as my father doing the same. It was not an easy decision. But I guess I'll sit at home and watch in HD (W/ REPLAYS), not stand in line at the rest room , and eat and drink for much less. Thanks Mike, you need to be fired next!

flatrock writes:

Hamilton and Raleigh need to ride out together- and take those butt-awful O & B uniforms that they stole from Oklahoma State (or was it Oregon State? or Princeton? or the Bengals? or the Orioles? or the SF Giants? or Ensworth Prep?). The brand is Tennessee Orange & White.

claiborneh writes:

If Fulmer and Pearl were unsatisfactory enough to be terminated, then Hamilton should resign based on the standards that have lead to his firings of others.

LJS1984 writes:

Seems to me like Hamilton's had a good year. He still has his job for some reason, he got to go on a two week trip to Africa in the middle of the basketball season, and tonight he went to a James Taylor concert after firing his baseball coach. How's he not having a good year? Any "normal joe" in his shoes would have been fired months ago.

LJS1984 writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

I suspect that the school administration likes Hamilton, because the objective financial measures have been positive. Sodexo paid a pretty penny for the rights to sell tiny boxes of popcorn for $4 apiece at Neyland. Same for Host Communications. Ticket holder required contributions are filtered through the athletic dept. controlled Volunteer Fund. So the athletic dept. shows a profit.

The subjective things that can't be measured are negatives. How many alumni have cut gifts to the university to the required minimum for tickets, as a protest against the dictate that contributions be filtered through the athletic department's Volunteer Fund? How many alumni leaving Chattanooga take I-75 south to Georgia Tech / ACC football, instead of I-75 north to Knoxville, whenever Tennessee is playing a meaningless game against a weak opponent like Buffalo or MTSU? How many fans refuse to spend $9 on a Coke and popcorn at Neyland? How many loyal alumni who held tickets in the west upper deck for 40+ years and were jettisoned to make room for the Tennessee Terrace quit caring? For the first three questions, I know the answer is "at least one," because I fit. For the last question, the son of one of the men who helped Neyland or Woodruff raise the money to build the west upper deck sued the school when he was forced out of his seats.

Only problem with your logic is that Usama Bin Laden would have been successful in raising money at UT. It's not very hard with the donors and resources that Tennessee has. A herd of cattle could raise money at UTK.

TNORANGEDOGDAD writes:

Maybe this heading for this article should have been:
Mike Hamilton has a stranglehold hold on UT sports and he's about choked the life out of it.

richvol writes:

By any professional standard one chooses Hamilton is a failure at the most important responsibility of an athletic director...hiring the right coach and keeping the school competitive in the sports they run while keeping the school out of NCAA trouble. It is past time for UT to search out the most capable athletic director and get the school back to respectability in the SEC and nation.

rick4tn writes:

Face it folks; the NCAA is going to GUT the UT sports program. Avoid the rush, be a Gator Hater and FIRE Hamilton.

slambob2#228938 writes:

Hamilton and his family have done some very impressive things personally. They should be commended for that. He has also built up the facilities to give UT a strong foundation for future success.

But my attitude about UT sports is at an all-time low. I don't have confidence in him hiring the next baseball coach, or any other coach. It's time for Mike to step aside.

LJS1984 writes:

in response to slambob2#228938:

Hamilton and his family have done some very impressive things personally. They should be commended for that. He has also built up the facilities to give UT a strong foundation for future success.

But my attitude about UT sports is at an all-time low. I don't have confidence in him hiring the next baseball coach, or any other coach. It's time for Mike to step aside.

Yes, they took a nice family trip to Africa in the middle of the winter sports calendar and an NCAA investigation. I commend Mike for keeping watch over the NCAA investigation and Coach Pearl's suspension from another Continent. The NCAA would like to commend him for being so vigilant.

volmania97 writes:

in response to TNORANGEDOGDAD:

Maybe this heading for this article should have been:
Mike Hamilton has a stranglehold hold on UT sports and he's about choked the life out of it.

Good one!

VOLS_SEC_RULES writes:

Fire Hamilton.

CFVolunteer writes:

Now when does Hamilton leave? Or is the stranglehold that Haslam and Co. have that tight?

wharfrat writes:

in response to wildmed:

Can't wait to see the next rinky dink Hamilton unearths...

This article is long overdue. UT Athletics are in a free fall, time for Hamilton to go. Maybe they should start a new sport like lacrosse where they might have a chance to win after a few years.

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

"Fire Mike" T-Shirts on sale now!

$25 each. $15 to go towards those who'd like to go to a football game but can't afford the ticket!

GBO Fire this guy before TN becomes FUBAR!

budd#207344 writes:

in response to Makeing_The_Call:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You have been given the reason about 42 different times in different posts.

HE IS HERE UNTIL THE INFRACTIONS COMMITTEE MEETING.

Sorry to yell but how many times does it have to be said before it sinks in. Adams usually writes decent columns but this is just something to fill space. He knows why MH is still here, but its a slow news day.

Orange_Juiced writes:

in response to runningwater58749:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

That's what JV meant. All coaches have been mediocre hires sans Pearl(sans = without, absent, except). Don't necessarily agree until we can see what Dooley and Zo can do. They might actually turn out to be great hires...they just weren't "big name" hires. Then again, neither was Pearl...

Volunatic writes:

"You also might conclude that's he's almost as adept at [avoidance management] as he is at rendering former employees financially secure."

Classic.

EvansUTVol writes:

What's it going to take to get rid of this guy? Enough already!! We need a person with an ATHLETIC background, not a fundraiser to run the ATHLETIC department!!

It should be obvious to anyone with half a brain and common sense that Hamilton needs to go. The deep pocket folks need to step up and flex their financial muscle before the entire UT Athletic program goes down the tubes.

DeeBee writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

Hamilton is only around because of the NCAA hearing in June. We need him to plead our case before the Infractions Committee. I strongly believe he'll either step down or be fired shortly after our punishment is announced. USC did the same thing with their former AD, Mike Garrett. The new baseball coach will be the last act he takes as our AD.

Don't tease us like that. We can only hope.

DeeBee writes:

There's a reason he had a bad year......

give_him_6 writes:

FIRE HAMILTON NOW!!! He is a joke and is embarrassing UT sports nationally.

Volumnus writes:

"Mike Hamilton hasn't had a good year", Duh? You think?

But looking back, exactly which one has been a good year? When he took over we were that shining orange glow on the hill. Now our athletic program more closely resembles the charred remains of Atlanta after Sherman paid his famous little visit. I think an exorcism is in order!

madrigal writes:

Once again John Adams states and expounds on the obvious. Do we really need him taking up the column width?

And does UT really need Mike Hamilton, a man who knows nothing about either athletics or integrity?

yankintenn#395643 writes:

I don't care if you are managing the UT athletic dept or a Wendy's. Not talking to a key employee for 6 months is irresponsible.

dawebster#210120 writes:

I almost never comment on an article, but it seems there is a lynch mob attitude toward Mike Hamilton that is, in my humble opinion, way over the top. I am not surprised to see it from fan comments, but I am surprised to see it from KNS sports reporters.

The toughest job for any manager is hiring people. No one has a crystal ball. Managers and coaches are fired on a regular basis because they didn't work out -- not just at Tennessee. We might want to remember that there was a time Bruce Pearl was looked upon as an outstanding hire. Quite frankly, so was Lane Kiffin -- until he took the USC job. And if he was such a terrible hire, why did USC want him?

Mike has made some great strides with the facilities and I personally think he has made two great hires in Coach Dooley and Coach Martin.

I think, if we are honest with ourselves, the reason we Tennessee fans hate Lane Kiffin so much is that he had us so excited about the future of the program if he had stayed.

Coach Dooley has shown great leadership skills and comes from several years training with arguably the best football coach in all of college football -- and he had high recommendations from Coach Saban and others.

Coach Martin is clearly a man of high character. His record at Missouri State is promising. I looked at some videos on YouTube of Missouri State games and it looked like they played the kind of basketball that our fans will enjoy watching. Some sports commentators have even said Tennessee made the best hire of a new basketball coach of any school after last season.

Why not reserve judgment for a little? There is no guarantee that another athletic director would have done better -- or even as well as Mike has done. I want to win as much as anyone, but fair is fair and this "dump Mike" stampede just doesn't fit with the facts of what he has done for Tennessee.

lknvol writes:

Hamilton's ability to raise funds is about to end. Big companies won't pay for tickets they can't give away. Going to a UT ball game is no longer a big deal unless they are playing one of the national powers. Big donors won't give big dollars to support a mediocre sports program, which Hamilton has turned UT into. Magnificent facilities will not attract fans (or players) if the product is not competitive. Hamilton can't attract a name coach because he's a weasel. He deserves worse than what he did to Fulmer. I'm gone until he goes! Tennessee Big Orange Pride is only a memory.

wigmeister writes:

Fulmer - it was time for a change
Kiffin - might have worked out if he stayed long enough to tell
Pearl - great hire but fell to stupid decisions
Dooley - believe he will turn out to be a great hire
Martin- like how he has started, time will tell
Raleigh - a mistake settled by firing

Everyone that was let go, deserved to be let go. Men's tennis, golf, swimming, and other minor sports are doing ok. The draw is to the major sports. Hopefully Dooley, and Martin will make us proud. Media writes things to get everyone hyped up, be it paper or TV. Controversy sells. Whether Hamilton stays or goes is up to the University administration, not the fans. Hopefully they will do their due diligence, and make any changes necessary for the success of all the men's sport programs. It would be nice if KNS did the same.

Bigger_Al writes:

The worst thing about Hamilton is his sense of timing. He is personally responsible for the 2008 Football team missing a bowl because of his Monday firing of Fulmer before a Saturday loss to Wyoming, AND he is personally responsible for the 2011 Basketball team flopping in the NCAA tournament due to his inexplicable comments about Pearl's job status earlier in the week. In Fulmer's case, it was to allow time to hire Lane Kiffin and get a two week head start in recruiting, but that backfired in every way.

Now maybe both coaches had to be fired, but LET THE TEAM AND THE FANS ENJOY THE POST SEASON. That is, after all, the "most wonderful time of the year".

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

in response to runningwater58749:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sans means without or not, thusly you are in accord with JacksonvilleVol.

BigHouse_of_IceGulp writes:

in response to collegegrad:

If UT should wise up, then, they'd fire Hamilton,and his career be over, Then, he can get a job as a grill cook at McDonald's or other fast food restaurant, dishwasher, busser, or grill cook, for shoney's or other dine-in restaurant, door greeter, stock person, or sales clerk for Wal-Mart, bagger, stock person, or grocery clerk for Ingle's, assembly line associate for a factory, stock person for a warehouse, custodial engineer (janitor) for a local school, hospital, or business, luggage expeditor (bellhop) for Holiday Inn, sanitation specialist (garbage man) for the landfill/dump, used car salesman, gas station attendant, or ditch digger (utility worker) for the city/county. He'll have plenty of new career options ahead of him

Would you buy a used car from that man?!?!

easleychuck writes:

Startling turn of Adam's undies, I thought Lil' Johnny had a lifetime mancrush on Hamilton because he fired his arch enemy--Phil Fulmer.

easleychuck writes:

in response to yankintenn#395643:

I don't care if you are managing the UT athletic dept or a Wendy's. Not talking to a key employee for 6 months is irresponsible.

You and I have a different opinion of what a key employee is or isn't.

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