SBD/September 7, 2011/Colleges

Univ. Of Tennessee Hires Dave Hart As Athletic Director, Effective Sept. 21

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Hart joins UT after previous stints at Alabama, Florida State and East Carolina
The Univ. of Tennessee named Dave Hart its new AD Monday after UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek “convinced Hart that now was the time to leave his alma mater, Alabama, where he had served as the executive director of athletics since 2008,” according to Andrew Gribble of the Knoxville NEWS-SENTINEL. Hart “will make a base salary of $575,000, an additional $150,000 for personal appearances and media opportunities and will receive $50,000 ‘retention bonuses’ through Aug. 31, 2017 that will give him $775,000 annually.” If Hart “meets Cheek's ‘expectations,’ he will receive an annual 3 percent raise to his base salary.” But if Hart leaves UT for another Division I AD job “before the end of his contract, he would owe the school 75 percent of his remaining base salary.” UT would owe Hart the same amount “if it were to fire him without cause before the end of his deal.” Hart's first day is Sept. 21, a “little more than three months after” former AD Mike Hamilton resigned. UT Women's AD Joan Cronan, who has served as the school's Interim Vice Chancellor of Athletics, said that Hart's name “didn't pop on UT's radar until sometime last week.” Hart had worked as Alabama Exec AD since August ’08, and previously served 20 years as AD at Florida State and East Carolina Univ. (Knoxville NEWS-SENTINEL, 9/6). Hart on Monday said, “I want this to be perfectly clear: I am absolutely and totally committed to the University of Tennessee. I wanted to say that early because I don’t want you to trip over each other to ask the Alabama question.” The AP’s Beth Rucker noted UT “had been looking for an athletic director since Mike Hamilton resigned in June in the wake of a lengthy NCAA investigation into the Volunteers’ basketball and football programs.” Hart said that the NCAA’s “final ruling on Tennessee’s case, which was announced Aug. 31, had no bearing on his decision to accept the job” (AP, 9/6).

DIFFERENT BALLGAME: In Memphis, Ron Higgins writes it is “hard not to like” Hart’s credentials. During his tenure at FSU he “did all the right things an AD should to improve the overall athletic program and grow the department.” It seems like UT “hit a home run hiring him.” Still, Higgins writes there is “this one fact that keeps nagging at me: In the three major men’s sports at FSU … Hart only had to make two head coaching hires during his 13 years in Tallahassee” (Memphis COMMERIAL APPEAL, 9/7). In Nashville, David Climer writes Hart in UT’s athletic department will be “in a virtual vacuum when it comes to on-campus scrutiny.” But unlike “most similar schools, Hart will enjoy uncommon freedom to do his job at UT without people in positions of power second-guessing his every move” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 9/7).
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