Dave Hart outlines leaner, more efficient athletic department

UT's reserve fund at $5.5M

Wrapping up a momentous week in University of Tennessee athletics, Dave Hart outlined his vision of a leaner, more efficient department Saturday in the spring meeting of the athletics board.

"We've set a very clear direction of where we want to go and how we want to get there," Hart said, seven months to the day he took over as vice chancellor of athletics.

"For our coaches, our student-athletes and staff, we're raising the bar. We're raising standards across the board. That's the only way you get better."

UT announced last June it would bring the separate men's and women's departments under one roof. Hart arrived in September to direct that overhaul.

Ten days ago, he revealed the merger of men's and women's swimming and diving under the direction of Lady Vols coach Matt Kredich.

Monday, UT unveiled a restructuring of the department that will lay off 17 employees and save $2.5 million.

"We simply had a volume of people, driven by the fact that we had been separate programs for a long time," Hart said.

Then came word that Pat Summitt is stepping aside to become head coach emeritus of the university's most successful national brand, women's basketball.

Hart said the fundamental restructure is in place, with only tweaking to come. The department morale, he said, is positive.

"Most of our coaches and staff were longing for a direction and we've got one," he said.

A couple of tweaks were discussed Saturday. Todd Dooley will head a strengthened compliance office. The board was informed that UT has closely studied the recent NCAA infractions report for North Carolina to "avoid going down the same path."

Donna Thomas will leave her post as director of the Thornton Center (for academics and student life) to be the senior women's administrator.

Hart said anxiety that

the Lady Vols brand will be diminished is unfounded.

"I've been asked, 'who will be the advocate for women's athletics?' and to me, that's a strange question," Hart said. "Every place I've ever been, the advocate is me.

"My track record will fully support that statement."

UT's need to become more efficient was outlined for the board in context of the challenging financial climate that is affecting all of college athletics.

The department plans to break even for the fiscal year and make its $6 million contribution to the university. However, Hart is concerned that the reserve nest egg is a mere $5.5 million.

"I look at the people we are competing against to build a championship-level program, and those people have reserves of $50 to $100 million," he said.

"We need to focus and prioritize long term."

That's not encouraging news for those who want to see a volleyball/indoor track facility built soon. Hart said it's "still in the master plan" but, "we're prioritizing from a realistic perspective."

Getting football healthy is a top priority. UT's subpar recent history has come at a time when ticket sales nationally are waning in all but the most successful programs. There are currently 2,300 non-renewals for season tickets at Neyland Stadium.

Other facility improvements are on the way after the current football complex revamp is completed but Hart declined to say what they are.

There are also technology-related plans afoot to enhance fans' ability to interact while in attendance at live events.

"We will not allow our financial challenges to cut into the fiber of our pursuit of excellence," Hart said. "We will not."

Follow Mike Strange at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange

Get Copyright Permissions © 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!

© 2012 govolsxtra.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Comments » 17

Chartervol writes:

So is there any hope of getting a complete story and a list of which positions are being axed? Or are you guys done reporting?

RashaadSalabeb writes:

What ever it takes Mr. Hart. Get this thing back on track.

Go Vols!

born2ride writes:

Here's my suggestion to Dave Hart if the Vols want to compete in football.

Dump Doolittle and replace him with Bobby Petrino.

VOLinMAHWAH writes:

in response to born2ride:

Here's my suggestion to Dave Hart if the Vols want to compete in football.

Dump Doolittle and replace him with Bobby Petrino.

You're an idiot and obviously not concerned about ethics. Winning at all costs is NOT an ethical route, and having the likes of Petrino here would put winning in front of ethics.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to born2ride:

Here's my suggestion to Dave Hart if the Vols want to compete in football.

Dump Doolittle and replace him with Bobby Petrino.

Congrats - you pulled out the 'dumbest post of the week" in the evening of the last day of the week. Doing the work.

volsmith writes:

How are the men and women track teams doing this year under one coach? I haven't heard a word about it on govols.com. Dave Hart is listed as the Vice Chancellor of Athletics. Is that the same as the Athletics Director? It all looks to me like they are trying to save money, at the expense of having good athletic teams.

stevefrommemphis writes:

Everything I read here seems positive. Just look at the administration pictures in a football media guide anytime from the past 15 years + .... assistant in charge of popcorn, assistant in charge of Snickers bars, assistant in charge of hot dogs, etc...

"Technology related plans afoot to enhance fans ability to interact while in attendance..."

What could this be? Sounds interesting.

Chartervol writes:

Hart is trying to save money by not paying a lot of people to do nothing. UTAD has been accumulating useless associate and assistant ADs for decades. I'd like to know what slots he is ditching.

underthehill writes:

in response to Chartervol:

Hart is trying to save money by not paying a lot of people to do nothing. UTAD has been accumulating useless associate and assistant ADs for decades. I'd like to know what slots he is ditching.

Is that why he brought in his cronies from bama and let UT people go..this is being noticed by UT people who have UT values...

Chartervol writes:

in response to underthehill:

Is that why he brought in his cronies from bama and let UT people go..this is being noticed by UT people who have UT values...

Well we'll never know unless we get the list, will we? And just what UT values are we speaking of? Wasting money on unproductive staff?

FWBVol writes:

in response to volsmith:

How are the men and women track teams doing this year under one coach? I haven't heard a word about it on govols.com. Dave Hart is listed as the Vice Chancellor of Athletics. Is that the same as the Athletics Director? It all looks to me like they are trying to save money, at the expense of having good athletic teams.

Yes, Vice Chancellor of Athletics is the same thing as AD.

Even before Mike Hamilton resigned last year the plans were in the work to merge the men and women departments into one.

Tennessee was one of the last three or four schools in the country with individual departments. By combining the departments the university is saving several millions of dollars a year.

To be honest, you lose me with your logic, the positions that are being cut are duplicated positions such as tech support and people in the ticket office and maybe some secretaries. I know the people losing their jobs are feeling the pinch.

Track and swimming are the only sports so far that have been given one head coach for combined men and women teams. Tennis would be the only other sport UT currently offers that could als be combined.

More is not always better. I think we should all sit back and see how this actually works before passing judgement.

BillVol writes:

Gymnastics? When are we getting gymnastics?

Tennfan4075 writes:

The non-renewal of 2300 season tickets in football is the most important fact in the whole article and was hardly addressed. The number may be 2300 but it does not reflect the hundreds if not thousands that were on a waiting list to buy season tickets just a few years ago. Without a nine or ten win season and a significant bowl in 2012 this number will grow along with the disparity in the reserves for future development of athletic facilities, which will contribute to the downward spiral of the athletic programs. While the competitors for championships were not mentioned in the article by name you can be assured the schools marque sports program on a national stage was not the women's basketball program (and I say that with no disdain toward Pat Summit and her efforts in women's basketball) but the fact remains UT has had no national championship in men's sports for more than 10 years and that one took almost 50 years to get. The return on investment in Natonal Championships has not been good on anything other than women's basketball.

Chartervol writes:

If they are saving $2.5 million by cutting 17 jobs, that's an average of $147,000. Either they are cutting some higher level posts or they pay the hell out of secretaries.

The UTAD payroll is public information. We should have this list. And no, I'm not interested in names; I want to know what positions are being cut.

bbmon13#478091 writes:

One of the reasons for the non renewals of season tickets is the price - the average fan is being priced out of the market - it's a crime what's been done to the west upper deck of Neyland Stadium - the more things like that are done, the more the stadium loses its personality.

Ticket prices - too high.

volboy81 writes:

there is still a week to go before all FB season tickets have to be renewed, so it should be less than 2300 non-renewals by then. Not bad considering UT has hit the perfect storm relating to that (bad economy, bad football teams, HDTV, high gas prices all happening at once.) I trust Dave Hart (trying not to hold the Bama thing against him...which is hard!) but I believe he is determined to do what is best for UT and to do what it takes to get football back to the level it should be here. Some cutting needed to be done over there and he did it. We seem to be in good hands with him.
GO VOLS!!

whoisinchargehere writes:

FUN FACTS:
1. Men's track has won 43 SEC titles
2. Men's track is the most successful program in the men's department (not even close)
3. Men's track won the last NCAA title
4. Men's track won the last title before that
5. The only team to win a NCAA title in 15 years
6. Women's track is the ONLY lady vol team to EVER win a NCAA title beside basketball.
7. Women's track has won 2 NCAA titles in 7 years.
8. The track teams have been being lied to about an indoor track since 1993
9. They have been forced to train in an asbestos-ridden and leaking stokely for years, while losing programs lounge in the lap of luxury
10. Track travels for 100% of its indoor meets (no home facility). Imagine a football team with only road games. A new facility could have been built with all the money spent on travel the last 20 years.
11. They have been showing recruits pictures of the new facility
12. The volleyball team just won the SEC and practices at Farragut high school...meanwhile its facility plans are being cut, while football gets a 48 million dollar facility.
13. Basketball; aren upgrade, new practice facility
14. Footbal; stadium upgrade, jumbotron, 48 million dollar facility
15. Baseball; facility major upgrade
16. Softball; new stadium
17. Soccer; new stadium
18. Tennis; new indoor facility
19. Golf; new training facility
20. Swimming; state of the art new facility
21. Track/volleyball: winning most championships.....sorry now we are out of money
22. Outdoor track was upgraded, but nobody wanted that, they only wanted/needed an indoor track.
23. Football needs to win to fund all this....but give me break do we have to destroy the tradition of all our other sports to get there
24. Stokely is being torn down next year, and there no plan to bring the track team out of the snow.........WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?

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