CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Former University of Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said he received threats last spring that led him to move his family out of Knoxville briefly.
Hamilton told the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Thursday that the threats led him to be assigned police protection (http://bit.ly/A8WtSd).
The 48-year-old Hamilton talked about what he called his "difficult" final months at UT while promoting his new venture as president of Operations for the Nashville-based charity Blood-Water Mission. The nonprofit organization works with the HIV/AIDS and water crises in Africa.
Hamilton, who was athletic director for eight years and worked at the university for 19 years in all, resigned in June following a lengthy NCAA investigation into the Volunteers basketball and football programs that resulted in the firing of popular basketball coach Bruce Pearl and a self-imposed two-year probation for the athletics department.
"I received several threats and it reached a point that I moved my family out of Knoxville for several days last spring and I was even assigned police protection," Hamilton said.
He said that he and his wife have five young adopted children "so I had to stop and realize life is short and it was time to reassess my priorities."
Three of the children are from Africa.
"I'm like a lot of men. I have my pride and I'm stubborn about admitting I need to make changes in my life, but I had to step back," Hamilton said. "And after I left UT, the Lord opened up wonderful opportunity for my family and me."
Hamilton said he "needed some time away from that world to recharge my batteries" but has not ruled out a return to working in athletics.
"I've thought about whether I would get back into athletics, because there are aspects of that world that I do miss and enjoy, so I would never say never," he said.
Hamilton said he is often asked about UT.
"I love that university and I'm proud of what we accomplished in my time there," he said.
"I view them now more as friends than as people I helped hire now," he said. "I actually stopped by Memorial Gym Tuesday afternoon before (UT) played Vanderbilt to talk with Cuonzo and his staff. I didn't stay for the game because I didn't feel like that was my place right now. I also went to a UT football game last fall, and I'm pulling for Derek and the program."
Asked if he regrets hiring Lane Kiffin as football coach, Hamilton said "Lane was the right person for the job at that time. I hate how things worked out in the end, but there was no way of seeing that when we made that hire."
Hamilton said all his decisions while at UT were "made with the best interest of the university in mind."
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com