One day after both Tennessee and Alabama acknowledged that Crimson Tide executive director of athletics Dave Hart was having "conversations" with UT about its vacant vice chancellor of athletics position, both schools remained mum Friday while he continued to mull his options.
In a statement Thursday, Alabama officials said "no time frame exists" for Hart, 62, to make a decision.
The athletic director at Florida State from 1995-2007, Hart makes a salary of $341,250, according to a Tuscaloosa News database. Former UT athletic director Mike Hamilton, who resigned June 7, made a base salary of $400,000, but UT is expected to pay significantly more than that for whomever it hires.
Hart, an Alabama alum for both his bachelor's and master's degrees who played basketball under legendary coach C.M. Newton, would fit the broad criteria laid out by UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek during Hamilton's resignation news conference. With his 13 years at Florida State and another eight at East Carolina, Hart has more than 20 years of experience as a Division I athletic director.
When hired at Alabama in 2008, Hart said he was not promised Alabama's athletic director job when the now 71-year-old Mal Moore retired.
Hart's father, Dave Sr., was a longtime athletic director at Missouri and the commissioner of the Southern Conference from 1986-91. Hart's son, Rick, is the athletic director at Chattanooga.
Hart left Florida State after the school's president, T.K. Wetherell, told him that his contract would not be renewed after its January 2009 completion. His departure came in the midst of a self-reported academic scandal with the NCAA that resulted in the vacation of wins for the football team, four years of probation and various penalties in 10 sports.
Though it was initially believed that Hart's departure and the academic scandal were intertwined, it was discovered that Hart wrote in a letter to the NCAA Committee on Infractions that his decision to resign was "driven by the fact that (Wetherell) and I simply agreed to disagree on some core issues."
Nearly three months have elapsed since Hamilton's resignation. In that time, UT has named women's athletic director Joan Cronan its interim vice chancellor of athletics, formed a five-person search committee, hired Parker Executive Search for no less than $90,000 and had one candidate, LSU's Joe Alleva, publicly reject its offer to become the school's new athletic director.
Initially, Cheek set a six- to eight-week window for hiring a new athletic director. Since that deadline has passed, he has said he is instead focused on making the right hire for Tennessee.
UT officials, Cheek said last Wednesday at a board of trustees meeting in Murfreesboro, "just haven't quite found the right person yet."
"We're going to keep looking every day for an athletic director, but we're not going to choose one until we have the right one," he said. "And we have a superb interim vice chancellor and athletic director in place and she's doing a great job and we're not going to hire an AD until we have the person we think is right for Tennessee."
In an interview with the News Sentinel earlier this week, Cronan said the recently resolved NCAA investigation, which hovered over the program for more than 28 months, was going to "open doors" for the committee to find its
candidate. She also said conducting the search was a "different dynamic" during the school year.
"Finding the right person," Cronan said, "is more important than the timetable."