Tennessee Basketball Reeling: AD Mike Hamilton Must Step Up

Joel BarkerSenior Writer IJanuary 4, 2010

TAMPA, FL -  JANUARY 1: Coach Phillip Fulmer of the Tennessee Volunteers (left) and and athletic director Mike Hamilton (right) receive the bowl trophy from Outback president Jim Smith after play against the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2008 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on January 1, 2008 in Tampa, Florida.   The Volunteers won 21 - 17. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

13 months ago Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamlilton made a decision that most said would define his tenure as AD. Some said if the Lane Kiffin hiring didn't work out then Hamilton's firing would swiftly follow Kiffin's in a few years.

The Kiffin thing is still up in the air. Yet Hamilton faces another one of those watershed moments. This time the decision is specifically basketball related, but considering the events of the past seven weeks or so, the entire athletic department weighs in the balance.

After four basketball players were arrested for among other things, possession of marijuana and illegal weapons, following the arrest of three football freshmen in November for aggravated robbery, the department of athletics at Tennessee finds itself in disarray.

Bruce Pearl has done everything but cry publicly regarding Tyler Smith, Cameron Tatum, Brian Williams, and Melvin Goins. The foursome's idiocy cant be understated.

Not only were they going 75 in a 40 mph zone they had measurable amounts of marijuana and two guns in the vehicle. But one gun had a serial number that had been scratched out.

Now a report surfaces that the young men picked the rental car up in Nashville, TN and knew the weapons were in the car.

This just begs people to connect the dots: these guys have done this before.

These guys, or at least two of them, has had some experience in this sort of thing. Internet rumors are rampant that Tyler Smith has been dealing drugs since he's been at Tennessee.

Some believe the athletic department knew about it.

The last thing I want to do is propagate a lie. I do not for one second believe that anyone in the athletic department knew of any alleged impropriety. I do believe, however, that this was not Smith's first rodeo.

The fact that he would risk it all; NBA potential, All-SEC honors, and his status as the Vols best player, tells me all I need to know. He did not think he would get caught because he never has before.

The bottom line in this whole situation is that it's Mike Hamilton's time to act. The ball is in his court. Bruce Pearl, Lane Kiffin, and Pat Summitt must all share a unified front with Hamilton when he comes out to immediately make changes in the athletic department.

It's time to issue stern warnings to any and all present and future Tennessee prospects. It's time to say enough is enough.

The stern action needs to begin with the four miscreants involved in this latest spat with the law. Once all the "facts" come in they need to be immediately expelled from the school.

"Playing college ball is a privilege not a right." That's the buzzphrase we keep hearing. Right now is the time to prove it.

Make an example out of these guys. Leave them out to dry and have zero sympathy. I know that's harsh. I realize that might not be the popular thing, but the risk of leaving any doubt as to perceived leniency could have devastating effects on the Tennessee Athletic Department.

Mike Hamilton has to put his foot down now. If he doesn't the consequences will be much more dire than someone losing their job.

If things go on as usual Tennessee athletics could lose it all.