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So what is the deal with the University of Tennessee?

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“We did a thorough and exhaustive national search. On the basis of all the information we gathered and the candidates to which we spoke, I am convinced Mike Hamilton is the right man at the right time to be men’s athletic director at the University of Tennessee.” UT President John Shumaker 2002-2003, who made the final decision

I had previously detailed the joyful and not so joyful realities in today’s coaching world.

I had blogged two years ago (September 24, 2008 to be exact) in regard to the possibility that Phil Fulmer would likely be out as head coach at UT:

“Ultimately, football like other areas in life is one of passion. If one doesn’t enjoy his or her work, it doesn’t matter how much fame or money someone has… While sometimes, coaches like presidents are unfairly blamed for all the world’s ills, when it comes to their immediate realm; they are the ones who set the tone. The head coach should be able to replace players when someone else isn’t getting the job done. They set the tempo and the tone of the team. Players can either get with the program or sit on the sideline. But where is the tempo? What does this team want to accomplish?”

I also wrote a few weeks later:  “An executive search firm can bring about conducting a through search of interested candidates and weed out the list and certainly prevent an embarrassing public relations display of potential candidates shooting down interviews because they won’t be taking a shotgun approach and just hoping to hit wherever it lands. Hamilton should certainly seek input, but he alone will have to make the call. If I have one concern, it would be that he may allow politics or big-money donors to influence the decision making process.”

But as the case with John Shumaker, an executive search firm is not a foolproof process especially when cronyism, fraud and nepotism are involved among others.

He even divorced his wife in the process when just a short time before he was announced as the new president, he put on a big show for the public and media.

7 years later, UT is still searching for a permanent president. My own thoughts on the particular responsibilities and skills of a university president would be one who can handle the political and public relations duties albeit while being a straight shooter. Just because the position is political doesn’t mean one can’t be honest in their dealings with people.  The chancellors at each campus should be in charge of faculty selection, academics, and running the campuses.

UT’s new president should be someone who knows and understands the overall structure of the university, understands Tennessee and its politics, and has the ability to interact with the business community and the extensive networks that contract with the university such as Oak Ridge National Labs.

Mike Hamilton’s background is in administration and banking. He was a fund-raiser before becoming Athletic Director. He makes decisions on the basis of cost-benefit analysis and budget estimating. As demonstrated by the North Carolina for Buffalo debacle (paying both teams a combined $1.5 million in the process), he was making the decision on the basis of hoping to break even rationalizing that Buffalo would provide the Vols with an extra home game and a better chance at winning thus possibly meaning the difference between a 6 or 7 win season therefore affecting bowl eligibility. The proceeds from a bowl in 2011 could in theory at least balance the books and even make a profit for the athletic department if the proceeds from the bowl is greater than $1.5 million.

While both positions involve finances and politics, the athletic director should not be making coaching and scheduling decisions on the absurd concept that I outlined above. Mr. Hamilton’s skills would be better suited for university president, not athletic director. He relates more to corporate sponsors, donors and the state legislature. He has trouble relating to the coaches, student-athletes, trainers and all the others who work in the athletic department. He apparently is not too keen to the perception that this causes namely that it is telling the players, coaches, fans and everyone else that the Vols football team is in the dumps and will be so for the foreseeable future. If we are just hoping to beat Buffalo (Bisons), how are they going to beat the Alabamas and Floridas? If that is how an athletic director  is going to be, then I don’t want to be working for him or her.

Mr. Hamilton should step down and perhaps lobby for the UT president position. He shouldn’t have too much trouble getting the job.

Written by chrisforliberty

August 19, 2010 at 11:47 pm

Posted in General

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