Orange Crush: Tennessee AD Hart Says Athletics Programs On Verge Of Major Rebound
Univ. of Tennessee AD Dave Hart "believes his department is back on the right track, even though the Volunteers’ recent results show there’s plenty of work left to do," according to Steve Megargee of the AP. UT "placed 37th in the 2012-13 Directors Cup standings, its lowest finish in the 20-year history of the award given annually to the nation’s top overall college athletics program." UT also posted a $3.98M "budget deficit in the 2011-12 fiscal year." But Hart "believes recent moves such as the hiring of football coach Butch Jones will help turn things around." One of Hart’s "first jobs was to consolidate the men’s and women’s athletic departments." Since that process "started, two gender discrimination lawsuits have been filed against the university -- one by former Lady Vols media director Debby Jennings and another by three current or former Lady Vols trainers and strength coaches." Hart believes UT has "better days ahead now that it’s gotten through all that transition." He said, “We have a lot of positive energy right now." Hart also said that the school has "taken steps to correct the athletics department’s financial problems." UT officials at a BOT meeting last month said that they were "confident the athletics department would break even in the current fiscal year." Hart: “I feel good about where we’re going. That’s not on my future concern list.” Meanwhile, Megargee noted progress on other fronts has been "overshadowed by the Vols’ football struggles." But Tennessee in April unveiled the $45M Anderson Training Center, and Hart said, “The NFL scouts who come through here tell me this is as fine a facility as they’ve seen at their level.” Hart also hopes to "add outdoor practice fields at the site of the recently closed Stokely Athletics Center." Other future projects include a "new residence hall and a television studio to accommodate the SEC Network" (AP, 7/20).