UT AD Dave Hart wants to put athletes first

Dave Hart applauded his predecessor for the University of Tennessee's enhanced athletic facilities, but there's still work to be done, he told the Big Orange Tipoff Club at its weekly luncheon Wednesday.

"We have some of the finest facilities in America," said Hart, who has served as UT's vice chancellor and athletic director for the last five months. " Mike Hamilton (the previous AD) did a great job."

But Hart believes the Vols can do better by their student-athletes.

"When I toured Thompson-Boling (Arena) for the first time, I started at the top and walked down," he said. "It was first class in every respect.

"But when I went to our men's and women's locker rooms, I felt like I got in a time warp and went back to the mid-80s."

Updating those facilities will be a priority of Hart's, who stressed the welfare of UT's student-athletes throughout a brief speech, and the lengthy question-and-answer session that followed.

"When I talk to prospective student-athletes and their parents, not one time has a parent asked me, 'Mr. Hart, could you show us a sky box?'

"That's important. It's important to us because we value our donors and alumni."

But Hart said parents and guardians of recruits are much more interested in where the student-athletes will sleep, eat, train and receive academic support.

"Can I see the locker room?" they ask.

"I've always been very student-athlete centered," he said. "Every decision we make, 'How does it impact them?'

"We're here representing the University of Tennessee because of the students. ... The priorities (for facilities) will be shifted to those areas that primarily affect the student-athletes."

He cited the volleyball program as an example in emphasizing the importance of improved conditions for the student-athletes.

"We need a place for volleyball to practice," he said. "When the hailstorm came through last year, the roof practically caved in at Stokely (Athletic Center). Since then, it has been a hunt-and-peck situation for them."

Hart touched on a wide range of other subjects during the luncheon.

— He praised Lady Vols associate head basketball coach Holly Warlick and the other assistant coaches for their efforts during a trying season. They have had to bear a heavier workload since head coach Pat Summitt's role has been limited by her illness, early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.

— UT's athletic director wants to play games in Memphis "for obvious reasons."

"We need a presence throughout the state," he said. "We're the flagship program in the state. We have an obligation to promote our university." The Vols played at Memphis in football in 2010 after a home game against the Tigers in 2009. UT has played Memphis in basketball eight times since 2001.

Memphis basketball coach Josh Pastner said earlier this year that if it were his decision, the UT-Memphis series would end after next season's game.

"We'll have a presence (in Memphis) one way or another," Hart said.

— It didn't take UT fans long to win over their new athletic director.

"I've been taken aback by the passion of our fan base," Hart said. "And their patience, to be honest. Three of our programs (football, basketball and baseball) are in the rebuilding stage.

"Our fans have been absolutely terrific."

— He likes the expanded title for his job.

"The title (vice chancellor for athletics) really excited me," he said. "I remain appreciative of (chancellor) Dr. Jimmy Cheek to be a part of his cabinet. I think it's really important that I be able to see the big picture — to educate one another what the issues are and what the challenges are.

"Our No. 1 priority is the university. We're the most visible ambassador.

"Monday morning largely is dictated by what happened at Neyland Stadium on Saturday. It's true on campus, in the classroom — it's true everywhere. We have to embrace that's the reality of how we affect everybody in the state and on the campus."

— Hart isn't happy with the late start for some televised basketball games, including the 8 p.m. tipoff for Wednesday night's game between UT and Arkansas at Thompson-Boling.

"Wednesday night is hard," he said. "That's a church night in the Southeast. People have to go to work the next day."

Hart said the individual schools are "not powerless but the window of opportunity is limited" in lobbying for starting times during the negotiations of television contracts.

— The increased interest in an expanded method for deciding college football's national championship is fine with Hart.

"I've been a playoff proponent for 25 years," Hart said. "Postseason football is an evolution. I've never believed that the evolution was complete. We're getting to the point where the next step will unfold.

"We're not talking about a 16- or 32-team (playoff) format but (about) the national championship being determined by what they do on the field in more than one game."

— Hart said he was more interested in retiring jerseys than numbers to honor the program's outstanding athletes.

"I don't think you retire numbers," he said. "You retire jerseys to honor those people."

UT already has retired the numbers of Peyton Manning, Reggie White and Doug Atkins in football. It also has retired the numbers of four players — Bill Nowling, Rudy Klarer, Will Tucker and Clyde Fuson — who were killed in action during World War II.

The criteria for retiring a jersey in football is extremely strict, and Hart said, "That's on our plate for discussion."

— Hart said SEC athletic directors will meet the day before the SEC women's basketball tournament in Nashville to discuss future scheduling for basketball.

"We are going to play 18 (conference) games," he said.

Texas A&M and Missouri will begin SEC competition in the fall of 2012 in all sports.

— Hart said his wife, Pam, was one of the many fans in Thompson-Boling who didn't agree with the technical foul call on Glory Johnson in UT's 91-54 victory over Kentucky on Monday night.

"I had to calm (his wife) down," he said. "She doesn't normally direct her emotions at officials."

Hart said he told his wife she needed to "settle down."

She responded: "Are you watching. That was a terrible call."

"Fortunately (SEC commissioner) Mike Slive was not our guest that evening," Hart said.

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 » 38

thevoice writes:

Anybody know the fate of the SAC and its replacement? Heard a few years ago it was going to be torn down.

Noogaorange writes:

Whatever it takes to have first class facilites for all our teams is what we need!
I believe that Hart will see that we have them! GBO

GreeneVol writes:

Sounds like a winner. And there will always be some aspect of facilities that will need upgrading.

NashvillePreds writes:

I have a feeling, that one day I will tell my children of the horror of Mike Hamilton's career as UTAD.
I imagine the tale can be correlated to the stories have heard of the Bill Battle era. (error)
Let us hope Hart can fix the mess.

Go Vols

VolNavy writes:

Bynum makes decision--signs with Vols..
http://joshandwill.com/audio/kenneth-...

RoadTrip writes:

I was underwhelmed by the announcement of Hart initially. I fully back him now. He is sharp and has his priorities right. He considers a situation and then systematically addresses it in a way that keeps the priorities in order.

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

Think I saw Bynum committed to the Vols this morning!

YEEEEEE HAW!!!

Vol43 writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I have a feeling, that one day I will tell my children of the horror of Mike Hamilton's career as UTAD.
I imagine the tale can be correlated to the stories have heard of the Bill Battle era. (error)
Let us hope Hart can fix the mess.

Go Vols

Horror? Really? Thought that word was reserved for movies. Horror, huh?

BR_549 writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I have a feeling, that one day I will tell my children of the horror of Mike Hamilton's career as UTAD.
I imagine the tale can be correlated to the stories have heard of the Bill Battle era. (error)
Let us hope Hart can fix the mess.

Go Vols

Don't forget to tell them about Craig Leipold either.

SummittsCourt writes:

JA finally wrote an article worth reading. Oh wait, he actually didn't really write anything, he just reported what Dave Hart said. Never mind...

Bubba_Knows writes:

"We need a place for volleyball to practice," he said. "When the hailstorm came through last year, the roof practically caved in at Stokely (Athletic Center). Since then, it has been a hunt-and-peck situation for them."

I thought they were planning to tear down Stokely because of the asbestos issue. Have they removed it or is still there and these athletes are being put in harms way?

Bubba_Knows writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

I was underwhelmed by the announcement of Hart initially. I fully back him now. He is sharp and has his priorities right. He considers a situation and then systematically addresses it in a way that keeps the priorities in order.

Agree -so far Hart has been a pleasant suprise. He's certainly got his work cut out for him in regards to how low our sports programs have sunk.

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

"When I talk to prospective student-athletes and their parents, not one time has a parent asked me, 'Mr. Hart, could you show us a sky box?'

LOL, priceless!!!

DougSharp writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

JA finally wrote an article worth reading. Oh wait, he actually didn't really write anything, he just reported what Dave Hart said. Never mind...

You had me yelling, WHAT with that first sentence....then I saw where you're were going...Too funny!

DougSharp writes:

I would much rather Hart come out and say his department's top priority is to get out from under the enormous financial payouts caused by the goofy hiring and firings by his predecessor then look at upgrading the locker rooms. Or maybe even say we're cutting 10 million in spending so the schools can lower tuition by a nickle instead of raising it again next year.

Vol43 writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Suck it Jeff.

formerflgranny writes:

in response to SummittsCourt:

JA finally wrote an article worth reading. Oh wait, he actually didn't really write anything, he just reported what Dave Hart said. Never mind...

Glad you figured out that JA wasn't the writer but only stating what Mr. Hart said. What does suprise me is that JA didn't add some stupid off the wall remark to the article.

GBOEngineer writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I have a feeling, that one day I will tell my children of the horror of Mike Hamilton's career as UTAD.
I imagine the tale can be correlated to the stories have heard of the Bill Battle era. (error)
Let us hope Hart can fix the mess.

Go Vols

You should worry less about Mike Hamilton and more about the horror of your children having you as a parent.

GBOEngineer writes:

in response to Grantlands_Red_Beans_and_Rice:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

6-6 and you're off the board...or are you still too much of a coward to take the challenge?

FWBVol writes:

in response to DougSharp:

I would much rather Hart come out and say his department's top priority is to get out from under the enormous financial payouts caused by the goofy hiring and firings by his predecessor then look at upgrading the locker rooms. Or maybe even say we're cutting 10 million in spending so the schools can lower tuition by a nickle instead of raising it again next year.

The athletic department doesn't get any state money. In fact, the UTAD has given back to the academic side of UT for years and helps support the band.

I agree that some of the buyouts from previous staffs were over the top, and I think the bonus that gripes me the most is the one Monte Kiffin got for staying at UT a year and then bolting for USC with Lane.

In reality whether the athletic department cuts 10 dollars or 10 million dollars out of the budget it won't help the general student body one bit.

stroker writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I have a feeling, that one day I will tell my children of the horror of Mike Hamilton's career as UTAD.
I imagine the tale can be correlated to the stories have heard of the Bill Battle era. (error)
Let us hope Hart can fix the mess.

Go Vols

Hamilton is more likely to be a legend than a horror story. He up graded the stadium and facilities big time, but if CCM and CDD workout like some expect including pron our grande children will marvel about Hamilton's intelecto.

stroker writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Trusting soul or too much kool aid?

stroker writes:

in response to TennVolAlum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

http://www.utsports.com/allaccess/
just offers a listen option as far as i can see.

SevenT writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Please DooStay....The best thing that ever happened to Kentucky Football. 4 more years, 4 more years, 4 MORE YEARS!!

volforeverandever writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Looks to me that you are drinking way to much merlot because your comments allways sound crazy.

Pullingguard writes:

in response to MerlotGoVols:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sure it looked good to you, did you recently see your shadow, be sure and pull the hole in after you once again occupy your space.

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to GBOEngineer:

You should worry less about Mike Hamilton and more about the horror of your children having you as a parent.

Keyboard gangsta

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to Vol43:

Horror? Really? Thought that word was reserved for movies. Horror, huh?

I will check Webster's, but I am quite sure the word, "horror" is not specific to cinema.
I would describe the downfall of our athletic program, as well as complete lack of any football championships, during Hamilton's tenure, as horrific.
I assume you would choose differing vocabulary?

NashvillePreds writes:

in response to BR_549:

Don't forget to tell them about Craig Leipold either.

I am actually mildly impressed you know of Craig Leipold. However, I do not believe his financial ability to bring an NHL team to Nashville is relatable to Mike Hamilton.
When Leipold's efforts to woo corporate dollars to buy seats failed, he was left with little choice, but to take the action he did.
Had the local group of businessmen not stepped in, and kept the franchise at home, I could see some resemblance between Hamilton, & Leipold.
Because history is what it is, & the Preds are thriving in Music City, Leipold does not qualify as the inept villain that Hamilton plays.

BSweet writes:

Student first, athlete second.

Vo2Vol writes:

in response to thevoice:

Anybody know the fate of the SAC and its replacement? Heard a few years ago it was going to be torn down.

I believe it will be torn down. While there is no such thing as Athletic dorms anymore, that property would be a great place to build new housing as a 50/50 student/athlete ratio. Gibbs is outdated and does nothing to sell a recruit. That would be another question that is asked "where do the players live". I believe they did something similar in Tuscaloosa.

rbwusa writes:

Finally an A.D.at UT with the correct attitude "Put the Athletes First" Impressive and turns my Blood even oranger if there is such a word.

tnluv2play writes:

in response to rbwusa:

Finally an A.D.at UT with the correct attitude "Put the Athletes First" Impressive and turns my Blood even oranger if there is such a word.

I agree. I'm impressed with what I've heard from him so far.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to RoadTrip:

I was underwhelmed by the announcement of Hart initially. I fully back him now. He is sharp and has his priorities right. He considers a situation and then systematically addresses it in a way that keeps the priorities in order.

I agree. Some fans seem to be annoyed that he didn't come right in sweeping with a new broom, but the basics of the athletic program are sound. I respect the idea that he didn't come in here thinking he already knew everything to be known about all the various issues, positive and negative, affecting the department. Also, while it may or may not seem like a big deal to some fans that the AD is now an official part of the overall university administration, I think this move was long overdue. There has always been a sense that the athletic department was just sort of associated with the university rather than an integral part of it. I favor the AD maintaining independence in funding so as not to be a drain on the already strained finances of the university as a whole, but since it is such a large part of the identity of the school and the state, it needs to be represented on a routine basis in everything that goes on in the school.

trubleoj#657755 writes:

Only 32, 49, 61 and 62 should be retired.
All other football lettermen were allowed the ability to graduate and chase their glory on fields and industries of their choosing.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to NashvillePreds:

I will check Webster's, but I am quite sure the word, "horror" is not specific to cinema.
I would describe the downfall of our athletic program, as well as complete lack of any football championships, during Hamilton's tenure, as horrific.
I assume you would choose differing vocabulary?

Well, compared to, say, world hunger, resource depletion, madmen with nukes, financial calamity, and the dozen other things that might end civilization as we know it, the vicissitudes of our athletic program aren't all that horrible. Perspective, my friend; find it.

jamgod writes:

in response to doesitmatter:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He's just doing whatever it takes to get that numb-nut cancer off the board! Settle down there beavus...he didn't say anything about settleing for 6-6!!

CroKev writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I agree. Some fans seem to be annoyed that he didn't come right in sweeping with a new broom, but the basics of the athletic program are sound. I respect the idea that he didn't come in here thinking he already knew everything to be known about all the various issues, positive and negative, affecting the department. Also, while it may or may not seem like a big deal to some fans that the AD is now an official part of the overall university administration, I think this move was long overdue. There has always been a sense that the athletic department was just sort of associated with the university rather than an integral part of it. I favor the AD maintaining independence in funding so as not to be a drain on the already strained finances of the university as a whole, but since it is such a large part of the identity of the school and the state, it needs to be represented on a routine basis in everything that goes on in the school.

I agree.

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